If You Are Not Registered With Us You Cannot Clear Your Cargo At The Port – CRFFN

…Says the Backing of FEC, Finance Ministry On Collection of POF

By Ambrose Okehi

The Registrar, Council For the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Barr. Samuel Nwakaohu has assured Nigerians particularly the freight forwarding community that soonest those freight forwarders who are not registered with them and are operating in the sector would not be allowed to practice. He said, they will not even be allowed to pay the proposed Practicing Operation Fees (POF). According him, they have the backing of the Ministry of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and that of Federal Ministry of Finance on that. In this exclusive interview with News Emperor Magazine, the River State-born CRFFN-led administrator spoke about how the council is working proactively to reposition the freight forwarding operation in the country and other issue, enjoy it.

Q: Let’s talk about the POF. How far has your council been going about the collection of the fee?

Ans: We have visited the three zones of the council. We have visited all of them. We have also visited the Terminal Operators, they are solidly behind us. It is in the Act the established us, it is there.  We have gotten the approval from the Federal Ministry of Transport, from the Federal Executive Council (FEC). The last approval we got was from the Federal Ministry of Finance.  Making the payment of POF as the receipt of cargo exit from the ports and all other borders. So we are good to go.  We have put everything in place and we are hopeful and God being on our side, very soon we shall commence the collection of the POF.

Q: Sir, I Know that is no more discordant tune in the sharing formula among the parties?

  Ans: It has all been resolved. It is a win win for all the parties. My take on that is that POF will contribute billions of naira to the federal government for nation building. The claimants will benefit, the freight forwarders will benefit. We will benefit because we will have money to pursue our mandate  and take care of the welfare and professionalize the industry. There is a lot to do and we cannot do much without the fund. I believe that POF is a win win thing for all of us.

Q: Beyond the five accredited freight forwarding associations, the issue of proliferation of freight forwarding association in the sector how do you see emergence of more associations in the industry? 

Ans: I am not in support of that. I am not in support of proliferation of freight forwarding association in the sector. We are looking at the ways we can professionalize the industry. And when you look at other professional bodies, they all have one single body. With time, freight forwarding will not be different.

Q: Looking at the Act itself and the implementer of the Act, is there any gray areas you are not comfortable with that you may wish should be amended?

Ans:  Well, like every other Act and especially when an Act is is done for the first time, you will may find out that after set off, there might be certain things in the Act that might not work in line with what the promoters want. 

Q: Do you have a word of advice for the freight forwarders in terms of them abiding by the rules and regulations that governs their practice?

Ans: Well, my advice for the freight forwarders is to key in because the POF regime is a moment for the benefit of all of us. The money (POF) that we are asking them to pay is not punitive, it is something affordable.  N1,000 per 20ft container and N2,000 per 40ft container. I am not saying it is not too much but I think it is affordable. That is my advice. People should key in. It is the right thing. It is an investment.

Q: Do you foresee such resources bringing about capacity development in the freight forwarding sector in near future?

Ans: Well, it could go a long way for what I call human capital development. We will use it judiciously for their benefit. And the claimants will have something coming to them that is why I am encouraging them.

Q:  When you are talking of the claimants you are referring to the freight forwarders?

Ans: Yes, they are the claimants. They are going to benefit too. Something will go to them too.

Q:  A dateline was given to practitioners who have not registered with the Council to register or else they will not be allowed to practice. How effective will it be?

Ans:  We are in the age of automation all right? If you go to other ports in other countries, they will not even allow you to enter their port. But unfortunately, we have not reached there. But we will get there one day. But the good thing is that we have integrate with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), to integrate with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). We will integrate with terminal operators and we will even with the shipping companies. It will be extremely difficult going forward for any freight forwarder who does not register with the Council to practice this year.

Q: Do you (the council) mapped-out plans and the strategies to get these things implemented and checkmate them or mere say?

Ans: I don’t know if you understand what I am saying? You don’t need to carry gun and bullet proof to checkmate anybody, No. The whole idea of integration is that if you are not registered with CRFFN, customs may not allow you to practice. It is not about strategy.

Q: Does the Customs Clearing License working in pari par suit with the CRFFN registration?

Ans: Yes, they are.

Q: Then, which one supersedes the other?

Ans: I said we have integrated, Okay? It is not a matter of which one superseding each other okay? If you are not a registered freight forwarder and your name is not showing on the customs platform, you cannot even clear your goods. If you are not registered with us (CRFFN), you cannot pay your POF.

Q: So the POF is for the registered freight forwarders alone?

Ans: Yes, you can’t even pay your POF.

Q: How would you describe the maritime industry?

Ans: Let me tell you the maritime industry is a supply chain. It is a huge industry. It is global in nature. It is not just a mere industry. And let me tell you with time. In short, right now it is all-comers’ affairs. And by the time we are done with what we are doing, it will no longer be all-comers affairs.  It will be for those who are well informed for the business they are doing. It will be encouraged to team up so that they can compete globally. One man business may not be okay especially with supply chain. Friends can be encouraged to put their resources together or partner together in their businesses and float a mega company that will involve freight forwarding. That is what I think.

Q: Okay, tell us who is Barr. Samuel Nwakaohu? We know your coming into the maritime industry was a surprise to many stakeholders especially those who did not know you before now?

Ans: Well, Barr. Nwakaohu was a practicing lawyer in Nigeria and an entrepreneur before I joined politics.

I know you are my brother from the Eastern part of the country. Which part of the Eastern region you come from?

Ans:  I am from Ikwere in Rivers State of Nigeria.

Q: Lastly, sir, I wish you well and I pray that God will give you the grace to carry on with the leadership of the council and pilot the affairs of the council successfully in Jesus name.
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