The large army of freight forwarders plying their trade at the Lagos ports has risen against the payment of Practitioners Operating Fees (POF).
It would be recalled that the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) recently said that it has received government nod to commence the collection of the controversial fees.
This announcement generated flurry of anger among freight Forwarders who felt the fee was one too many.
However, their complaints were hushed by their leaders who have apparently bought into the CRFFN vision.
The leadership of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Association of Registered Freight Forwarders, Nigeria, (AREFFN), have all warned their members of the implications of resisting the collection of the fees.
They declared that since the pronouncement has been endorsed by government, it has become a law.
They said whoever opposes it does so at his own peril.
As a result of the endorsement of the leadership of these associations, their members can only protest in muffled voices.
The former Chairman, Igbo Maritime Forum, PTML Chapter, Mr. Francis Uchechukwu Aniezechukwu in a chat said “It’s a government order which makes it a constitutional issue”.
He explained that CRFFN was supposed to veer into capacity building for the betterment and welfare of freight forwarders first before venturing into POF matter.
According to him; “The contentious issue shouldn’t be whether the money be paid or not. CRFFN hasn’t done enough. Let collect the POF but the question is; what will it be used for?”
On the way forward, Aniezechukwu maintained that what CRFFN should do is for them to make their presence known by the freight forwarders in the industry because there are so many things hampering freight operations.
“The way forward is to make their presence known by the freight forwarders. There are so many things hampering freight forwarding operations in the industry”.
“They should be talking about demurrage, delays, high cost of doing business, gridlock and so on and then willingly, POF will be paid by freight forwarders, “he said.
Another stakeholder, Mr. Tony Anakebe in a phone conversation said he wasn’t in support of the CRFFN directive.
According to him; “stakeholders pay through their nose. There are other unnecessary charges, which freight forwarders are paying”.
“POF introduction is abnormal as at now based on operational deficiencies in the ports”.
He pointed out that a lot of problem is facing freight forwarders that needs to be looked into before talking about POF.
On way forward, Anakebe posited that it’s for freight forwarders to organise themselves and become a serious pressure group that would help move freight forwarding business forward.
He also noted that the problems in the ports at the moment is too numerous for operators leading to unwarranted circumstances that ought to have been averted.
“In some instances, operators are collapsing and dying due to one problem or the other”.
“Clearing of goods as at now is not easy so, introducing POF is unacceptable to me, “he said.
However, other chieftains of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Association of Registered Freight Forwarders, Nigeria, (AREFFN) and National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) who spoke anonymously due to their associations support for POF collection by CRFFN averred they were not happy about it but were handicapped due to their different association’s stand.
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