A Bit of Lagos

If you ask me where I am from, I will say Lagos. Even though I was not born and bred in Lagos, but a town close to Lagos, the hike of activities going on in Lagos is enough for anyone to forget s/he is not from Lagos :). One of the uniqueness of Lagos is that it is a city where you will find almost all of the more than 300 different ethnic groups in Nigeria. In Lagos, there are mixed cultures with almost all tribes working together and adding value to themselves and the society. Lagos is so mixed that you hardly identify a separate tribe unless the person speaks his/her native language. Most people in Lagos are more concerned with the business that will provide food on their table than any other thing.

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A typical road in Lagos

Yes, it is Lagos. That was one of the reasons why it used to be the capital of Nigeria. That is why it still remains in the foremost in the most economically buoyant states in Nigeria. This is why you hardly find a multinational company that does not have a branch of its office in Lagos, if not its Headquarters. That is why its population is more than 20million people (according to the Lagos State Bureau of Statistics’ figures) despite its restricted landscape as a result of water bodies in there. That is why, that is why, and that is why…

Yes, I enjoy working in Lagos even though I get stuck in traffic like 2hours from home to work in the morning and another 2hours from work to home every day. Yes, I like Lagos even though you often see “thinking out of the box” activities here and there, which makes you baffle if you are in the right environment and which at the same time make you laugh and laugh off some stress of every day work.

Lagos is a wonderful place to live and work. Though very serene, some activities you encounter makes outsiders ignorantly feel it’s dangerous to live in Lagos. But to be realistic, that is not the case. It is safer than you think! You may tell me to say that to the Marines! But the truth is that in Lagos residential areas, you find expatriates jogging down the street as a form of exercise. Of course, as a Nigerian, I will not dare to do the same in the current Northern part of Nigeria! But we are getting there.

Lagos as you may all know is a warm country, not only in weather, but the people make you feel very welcome at all times :).

 

Describe your workplace

Lufthansa Cargo Lagos is located at the heart of Lagos, of course the Cargo Centre which is a stone’s throw from the International Airport. After the Seaport, the Cargo Airport is next in terms of volume of cargo entering and going out of Nigeria. Recent figures given by a foremost Ground Handling company shows that Lagos Airport accounts for around 87% of export and 82% of import in 2014. It is no news that Nigeria is an Import driven country with less export, most of which are low yield cargo such as perishable etc. My stay here has mostly been on the positive note, but of course not without its bad sides/stories. A particular period was when there was a dispute between the Nigerian customs and the forwarding agents. It was so bad, that the Warehouses (Import and Export) were shut down for close to 1month. The Tarmac was full of Import cargo, that there was little or no space for aircraft to park to the extent that a NOTAM, stopping any cargo aircraft from coming into LOS, had to be issued.

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A view of the Tarmac during the congestion

Lufthansa in Nigeria is synonymous with quality, reliability, safety and wide network. To forwarders, they prioritize Lufthansa Cargo for their export businesses especially special types of cargo that need special care (in terms of handling, timeliness and correct & consistent information); and when they have shipments to destinations many airlines do not fly to. These are common knowledge within the forwarders.

 

Workplace conditions, Special features of your environment, Daily challenges

Temperature in Lagos is always wholesome. We have the Wet, Dry and Harmattan seasons in Nigeria. Wet Season is when there is heavy rainfall, Dry season comes with very less rain while Harmattan is a special one when it becomes very cold around midnight and early morning; and the temperature starts rising by the day, but temperature is not as high as during the Dry season. At this time it is less humid. Lagos is a part of Nigeria where you hardly see the extreme of any weather conditions. For example the temperature in the Northern part may go as high as 450C during dry season and the area also experiences wet season with the extremes of winds and downpour. The only part is that during heavy rainfall, the traffic becomes more terrible in Lagos. While some infrastructures are good in Lagos, some are very bad. Road network is fantastic, maybe because the environment is an eyebrow area as it is close to the International Airport. Some other infrastructures are poor, but of course it can only get better. It used to be a nightmare with the internet facility until the company changed providers like three times. Of course we still struggle with electricity till date, but I am optimistic this may get stable in the nearest future. There are many sight-seeing areas for relaxation in Nigeria in general and Lagos in particular.

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Oke Agbele at Igbeti in Oyo State, 180km away from Lagos :)

Besides, I enjoy working in LOS because each day is unique on its own. Most distinctive for LOS is the different “interesting” requests coming especially from the agents. While there are many opportunities in terms of cargo, e.g. repair and return, perishable etc.; there are a lot of capacities in the market with some carriers offering unimaginably low rates, which further drags the market yield low. There is also security challenge, which increases the LCAG security measures needed to be adopted for all the shipments departing LOS. Not-so-good infrastructural facilities and red tapes are other factors, which make some processes difficult to believe.

 

Why is it a rewarding place to work? What do you like the most about it?

For me, it is quite rewarding to work with LCAG. As I joined the company on a 2-year trainee programme, it gave me the opportunity to have a broad view of the whole company and all the departments it has and on completion, I had the chance to focus more the Logistics business unit of Lufthansa (Lufthansa Cargo). It is particularly interesting for me, because having started my trainee programme with Lufthansa German Airlines (Passage), I was given the opportunity to move from Lufthansa German Airlines to Lufthansa Cargo after 1year into the 2years trainee programme; when I applied for it. Lagos is very rewarding, because there are many opportunities. Although the unemployment rate in Nigeria is still in double digits, there are still opportunities for people with appropriate skills only that long years of experience is usually a pre-requisite and hurdle :). This is another argument on its own…

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Lagos office

I also particularly like the development progress in Lufthansa Cargo. Regular trainings to keep one up-to-date and opportunities to renew licenses which boast confidence at work are always available. There are also various tools to perform tasks without stress. These are some of things that make the company unique.

 

 Little experience working abroad

I have also had some tastes of working in other countries for short periods of times. Each of them is a unique experience on its own, was worthwhile and remains indelible in my mind. During my trainee programme, I did my Headquarters assignment, which lasted for 3month in FRA. At this time, I spent the period at the old Network Planning & Sales Steering- East department. Working abroad is good as it gives you the opportunity to understand another culture and better shapes your professional life. Amongst others, one unforgettable thing that I learnt was how meetings were held. I realized that even for 30 minutes, it is important to book a meeting appointment with a colleague(s) (maybe in a room), if you really want it to work. Apart from other benefits, planning your day and prioritizing things, it teaches you how to manage time. Another important one is communication. It is of great advantage, if one can e.g. speak the local language of any country where one works abroad. It makes one to feel more involved when you can also understand/speak such language. Also in Nigeria, people from the same village do speak their local language and leave the others at sea (going fishing or diving). I would say being multilingual has many pluses.

Furthermore I would say working abroad has different cultural traits. Literally speaking, a flat organizational structure could be easily seen from the outside during my short experience working abroad. I realized that a Director of a department sits just a short distance from his subordinates in the same office and you may hardly identify that he is the boss over others, if you are an outsider. In my country, that will not happen. A Director will have a separate office, most times not transparent from the subordinates. In fact you may have to go through his/her personal assistance before you can see him/her. Also I realize that a Director can also take public transportation to anywhere. This is very unusual in my country as a Director almost always uses a car and in fact with a driver, except if he is Director of his own self start-up.

 

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my wonderful station-Lagos. Tomorrow you may check out how things work in Mexico. Do find time to come visit Lagos on ID Tickets…