Segun Oladipupo |
In November, 2018, a new governing board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) was inaugurated.
During the lifetime of the past administration of the Council, its under performance was ascribed to lack of governing board in place.
CRFFN is one of the six parastatals of the Federal government under the Federal Ministry of Transportation responsible for regulating the profession for standardisation.
Its main role is to regulate the freight forwarding practice and practitioners in Nigeria according to the Act of the National Assembly establishing it.
However, since the inauguration of the incumbent governing board a year ago, how well can it be said to have achieved this purpose?
Although the governing Council under the chairmanship of Abubakar Tsanni has witnessed some significant changes within the Council ,but these are yet to transform into concrete achievements.
Several moves are also said to have been made to give the agency a facelift and to meet up with global standard. Some of which include recent training of the board members as well as synergy with other government agencies operating in the port.
All these according to some stakeholders are yet to yield any physical benefit to the freight forwarders who are eager to reap the benefits of the new board.
What is agitating the minds of many stakeholders in the freight forwarding sub- sector is when will all the underground efforts manifestly yield benefits to the industry and the practitioners?
They have argued that inactivity of the Council has cost the practitioners a lot of pains like a sheep in the wilderness without a shepherd.
They argued it has made the industry lack direction and motivation. Some said if the Council was on ground, several issues that they have with shipping companies and terminal operators would have been addressed in synergy with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council.
All these questions are impatiently waiting for answers and solutions.
Speaking on the development, immediate past chairman of the Tin Can chapter of Association of Registered Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (AREFFN), Jude Ige, agreed that the new Council has a lot of good plans up its sleeves but noted that they are yet to manifest which is the ultimate expectation of the practitioners.
He said that the board had two years tenure and if urgent moves are not made before long, the two years would have passed without achieving anything.
He said, “Well, what the CRFFN is doing right now is that they don’t want to carry out manual scrutinisation of freight forwarders, that’s why they gave every freight forwarder time to go and upgrade their academic qualifications for those that have registered and those that have not registered.
“All freight forwarders should acquire National Diploma before 2021.
“CRFFN made us to understand that they have the target of 10,000 members to be registered nationwide and immediately they hit the figure, the registration will stop.
“Within this one year under review, they are just putting all modalities in place so that they won’t be caught napping.
“With what they are doing right now, I am okay. At least since the board came on board, they have been together as one.
“First of all before you do anything, you will undergo training. They are undergoing training right now over what they intend to do.
“But in terms of any meaningful and concrete thing in the port, I have not seen what they have done but we are hoping and believing that they will do better.
Henry Njoku, Vice Chairman, CRFFN board in a recent interview enumerated the number of projects and programmes the board is putting in place under the new regime.
He claimed that the present board is different from what it used to be, saying all associations were represented in it.
Speaking on the modalities put in place for the collection of Practitioners Operating Fee (POF), he maintained it is going to be electronically collected and that the process is going on.
“This council of now is a different council. This time, it has almost all the associations as members of the board unlike before.
“POF collection has been approved by the Federal Executive Council and there is an ongoing link to make sure that it is done electronically”, he declared.
Bakare Adeyinka, a board member while speaking on the achievements of the board, maintained that the council they inherited was one without a budget.
According to him, paucity of funds has made the job of achieving the maximum benefits for the Council a herculean task.
Despite that, Adeyinka said the Council has been able to put some structures in place that will ease the job of the Council and that will soon yield a physical benefits to the people.
His words, “The regulation of Freight Forwarding by the government is not a one- man thing.
“We should bear in mind that this council for several years has not been functioning. We came into the council exactly a year tomorrow and we met a council that has no structure and the first thing we did was to put in a Registrar because the Registrar then was going on retirement.
“We had to put the management in shape and to put the office into maximum use and to know what they are doing.
“We opened offices in all the ports and across the country and we made sure that the offices were well equipped and friendly for the staff.
“All these require money and when we came in, we met zero budget even majority of us used our money to do what we were doing like travelling, meetings and other things like that.
“I want to say so far as the council is concerned, we have not achieved much because there is no fund to use for that. So far, we have not done badly.
“A time is coming the port will be accessed by only those who have automated cards, and if you are not registered with CRFFN, you will not be able to access the port.
“We are working hand in hand with NPA as well as Customs. By the time we enter 2020, with all these agencies, we are prepared for that.”
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