Challenges are inevitable in life, and the same can be said about businesses and any establishments. Some challenges are general to all industries while some can be peculiar to certain industries. The International Clearing and Forwarding companies who help facilitate and organize shipments as goods are being shipped from the manufacturer or exporter to places of destinations are not having it all good in going about their businesses. Freight forwarding companies have been dealing with their own challenges since time immemorial and will invariably face more in times to come.
Freighting cargo can even be more frustrating here in Nigeria like most developing nations who have not fully deployed technology and other up-to-date measures to help fast track export and import activities. Here are some of the present challenges being faced by International Clearing and Forwarding in Nigeria:
International Clearing and Forwarding recently announced a two-week strike ultimatum from October 25 to November 10, 2021 against shipping companies to stop their exploitation dealings or risk the withdrawal of their operations in the port. The freight agents had listed the dubious methods being used by the liners to cheat their principals, which are depletion of container deposit refunds, detention invoice, deceitful demand of opening of importers account/ extortion before releasing invoice, undue debiting of importers, and transfer of containers against the wish, consent or approval of the consignee, unnecessary extortion of importers up to N150,000 before dropping empty containers, internet failure leading to raising an invoice, undue equipment detention charges ranging from N200,000 per 1×40ft and N100,000 ×1×20ft multiplied by over 1000 containers per day, making Nigerian freight forwarders to lose several billions of Naira to the shipping lines.
*Inability of Nigerian Ports Authority to give 24 hours services*
The nature of the shipping industry includes many different global shipping partners working together to move cargo that should be done without interruption but sadly, it is not the case here in Nigeria. International Clearing and Forwarding are most times frustrated by the inability of the Nigerian ports to give round-the-clock services that will help in speed and cost of clearance . Like the airports, seaports should also operate optimally 24 hours a day, if appropriate measures are taken to reduce the physical and paper-based services. Last year, heads of agencies agreed to play their respective roles to facilitate the operation of 24 hours hours a day, seven days a week port services which will help to decongest the ports and tremendously impact on the Ease of Doing Business initiative of the Federal Government. Infact, the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh during a meeting of Heads of Maritime Parastatals held at NIMASA Headquarters in Lagos said, “We are looking at the workability of 24-hour port services to ease the pressure on our ports in terms of congestion’’.
*Limited Intermodal transport system*
The limited intermodal transport system is another challenge faced by freight forwarders in the Nigerian port. Smooth movement of freight should be by two or more modes of transportation moving containers seamlessly between trucks, trains and cargo ships; that’s not the situation in Nigeria. Transportation of freight in Nigeria is mostly by heavy-duty container trucks and sometimes barges that are really helping to beat traffic congestion around the port environment like in the case of Apapa gridlock. These two active means of intermodal transportation need to be further expanded by active use of the railway system as railways are the best means for moving cargo within a country.
Working round the clock to ensure ease of doing business for stakeholders in the sector, adequate automation of ports services through the use of technology and employment of multi modal means of evacuation of cargoes will enable ease of doing business for operators like freight forwarders and investors in the industry will be the way forward.
Other challenges International Clearing and Forwarding are facing currently are low patronage as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic that has limited international trade, government and international regulation, fuel cost, truck driver shortage and retention, bad roads, in-land waterways insecurity and climate change.

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