By Yemisi Izuora
‘The Managing Director of SAHCOL, Mr Olu Owolabi recently granted interview to aviation journalists where he spoke on the state of affairs of the company, the aviation industry and many other issues, our aviation editor, Yemis Izuora was there’.
WHEN DO WE EXPECT THE OPENING OF THE NEW WAREHOUSE ?
Before the end of February 2015, we will start the test running of the facilities provided in the warehouse. The type of facilities there are a complete village
on its own. We are looking at March 2015 for the formal opening of the new warehouse.
HOW MUCH LOSS WAS RECORDED BY SAHCOL DURING THE CLOSURE OF WAREHOUSES BY CUSTOM MEN ?
We are even yet to get out of it. So, as it is now,its been very difficult to compute our losses. No doubt, we lost millions of Naira. Don’t forget that we have to increase our manpower to assist in the clearing of backlog of cargo to be able to meet up with the expectations of our customers during the festive seasons. We don’t pray that this type of closure ever happen again !
CARGO FREIGHTING & PASSENGERS FACILITATING?
Facilitation go side by side with cargo handling depending on which side you want to focus and depending on the type of facilities that is provided by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria[FAAN]-our landlord and what we’ve been able to do to compliment government as one of the handling agents in the country.
In terms of cargo handling. You must have gone round to see what we’ve been doing in the past two years now. We are almost at the tail end of completion of our multi-million Naira bonded warehouse project which is going to be the best, not only in West Africa, but also in the whole of AFRICA in terms of facilities being provided.
We sincerely hope that the government will be able to assist us in implementing the rules that govern the procedures of all of these issues that necessitated the closure of warehouses of handling companies recently for almost three weeks thereby making us lose billions of Naira in the process on both sides including us, the handling companies.
Don’t forget that we have to engage extra hands to handle security aspects of peoples’ baggage. On cargo that litters the tarmac, we have to work extra hours with the men of the Nigeria Customs Service to decongest the tarmac because of the small size of the apron where the cargo freighters are parked. So, its a lot of workload.
On passengers facilitation…….you know ours is to load and offload. If the conveyor belts are not working or are not good, passengers do not want to know whether or not its our responsibility. So,we have to go extra length by doubling our staff on shift to meet the challenges. Don’t forget that we also pay overtime allowances to our staff for working extra hours to be able to meet passengers expectations.
ON RULES & PROCEDURES GUIDING CARGO FREIGHTING ?
The rules and procedures are applicable internationally and we should respect and operate as stipulated. The freighters arrive with their fuselage load of cargo. You offload to the cargo warehouse, palletize and de-palletize and stack them on to the racks for Customs examination.
In fact, the new warehouse we are building has taken cognizance of this procedures, so that cargo operations are not in a mess once we the warehouse begins operations.
It has taken care of passengers’ and customs needs and those of the airlines in terms of their pallets and for passengers as regards their baggage. Then Customs, in terms of facilities to be provided to allow them function well. All these are now being provided by us [SAHCOL].
WHY DO YOU SAY THAT IT IS A COMPLETE VILLAGE ?
Mention all that is expected in the handling of cargo, we are there. We have facilities for handling human remains, facilities for dangerous goods, we facilities for cold-room storage and for freezers.
We also have facility for the handling of radio-active materials, for safe keeping of valuables[Strongroom].
Whatever time you come into the country, we have facility for perishables like Vaccines and Pharmaceutical products and so on. We are therefore providing facilities for all the necessary needs that are expected in a warehouse.
ON SECURITY ?
The provision of security gadgets to deter and detects dangerous ‘terrorists’ tools such as guns, bombs and other explosive materials is that of the governments. On our part, we assist the government in the provision of X-ray machines, for the screening of exports and imports. It is therefore the job of of the Customs to screen all in-bound and outbound goods.
Ours is to accept the goods already screened by the Customs after they must have carried out 100 per cent checks of all imports. That is why we have de-palletization of all imports. You don’t just carry goods from the tarmac and hand it over straight to the owner or clearing agent[s]. It undergoes a lot of procedures.
WHAT IS THE VOLUME OF CARGO OR SPACE AVAILABLE IN THE NEW WAREHOUSE ?
As at now, we have more than 100,000 square meters of space.
ON DOUBLE TAXATION ?
It had always been serious issue which has not been resolved, but I understand that presentation has been made to the new Minister of Aviation, who has passed it to a committee to look into it and make appropriate recommendations.
I am very positive that government will look into it and out ways to assist us. All the multi-million Naira equipment we invested and pay duties on are stationed at on the tarmac for our operations and cannot be parked on the street, yet we are still being billed by FAAN.
Do you expect us to take our equipment like the FMC to the street ? Government meant well for the industry when it said it was embarking on the upgrading of airports and at the same time, it should be supportive when handling companies are buying new equipment to be able to facilitate passengers and airlines needs.
So, I sincerely belief that since airlines are enjoying zero tariff on aircraft spare parts, the same should be extended to handling companies on the equipment being imported by giving us duty free on spare parts. We have been agitating on this for long.
The airlines operate, but not as much as we operate for them. After the aircraft must have landed, all the supportive operations either on landing or about to take off are being taken care of by the handling companies.
ON PLANS TO GO TO NIGERIA STOCK EXCHANGE
We are surely working towards being listed on the floor of the stock exchange. Not only that, we are moving…….If not for the Ebola virus crisis. We are moving. If not for the Ebola virus outbreak, we will have been in one or two other West African countries.
Any time from now, we are already in negotiation with some countries in the sub-region before the outbreak of Ebola virus. Once we get the green signal on the resolution of the Ebola crisis, we will go back to those countries to resume negotiations. We look forward to the eradication of the Ebola virus.
AFTER THE ATTAINMENT OF IATA’s ISAGO CERTIFICATION FOR YOUR COMPANY’s CARGO OPERATIONS WHAT IS THE LATEST ON YOUR PURSUIT OF IATA CERTIFICATION FOR SAHCOL’s TRAINING SCHOOL IN GRA, IKEJA, LAGOS?
We have attained that. IATA has certified us. We are proud owner of IATA Certification, almost 9 months ago.
ON INDUSTRIAL HARMONY?
Industrial harmony has been paramount in the mind of the Chairman, Mr Taiwo Afolabi, the Board and Management of SAHCOL. We appreciate that if the staff are not cooperative, its hard to achieve positive changes.
The staff have been wonderful in making SAHCOL a success story. The management and board of the company have ensured that they are well remunerated and their welfare taken care of including training and re-training so as to improve on their skill and proficiency. Our staff will continue to smile and smile as we improve on our services.
SAHCOL HAS IN RECENT TIMES RECEIVED SEVERAL AWARDS WHAT DOES THIS SAY OF THE COMPANY ?
It meant progress, sincerity of purpose in our dealings with our clients and more awareness. When things are happening like this, it tells you that you that you must be more serious to tackle more challenges to come. The expectations from people become more demanding than before. So, you have to work more hard than before. However if you relax after receiving such accolade, you end up not being a successful outfit. You must continue and improve on the good service you are rendering to your clients.
We have the best ground handling equipment so far in the country. We are however not satisfied yet, because the more we improve and expand on our service delivery, the more we will need to acquire additional equipment to meet up with the demand of our clients. The type of equipment we use, are not the type you buy and keep. The more the need arises, the more equipment we add.