Barring any last minute change of mind, the Federal Government is concluding plans to clamp down on freight forwarding associations over the imposition of illegal charges at the air and seaports on unsuspecting port users, which help to further increase the already high cost of doing business.
This is sequel to allegations that the Joint Task Force of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) currently collect illegal fees at the Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL), National Aviation Handling Company Limited (NAHCO), Federal Ocean Terminal (FOT) and the West African Container Terminal (WACT) both in Onne, Port Harcourt.
Deputy registrar of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Federal Government’s apex regulator of the freight forwarding industry Mr. Basil Nwosu, who confirmed the development, observed that it has been discovered that these associations impose illegal collections on hapless stakeholders, which will no longer be tolerated.
According to him, prior to the enactment of the CRFFN Act, which also created the council and charged it with the duty of regulating the industry, anybody would have collected any levy or fee under any guise.
“But with the passage of the act and coming on stream of the council, it has become illegal to collect any of such fees and so the council will not fail to come heavily on such operators”, he warned.
He also disclosed that the recently inaugurated enforcement officers of the council has done a thorough job during their visit to all the air and seaport formations across the country by establishing that such illegal charges were actually imposed on air and seaport service users.
He insisted that the time of ignorance has gone and that the council has sounded a note of warning to all affected association and that any one caught henceforth, will be visited with the full weight of the law.
On what kind of punishment would be meted to offenders, he said: “Such people would be made to face the Freight Forwarders’ Tribunal created by the CRFFN Act and you also know that the decision or judgment of the Tribunal can only be challenged in a High Court”.
The council had in a letter signed by the Secretary, Mr. George Olufunmilayo, dated September 6, 2013 addressed to the management of all the seaport and airport terminals, noted that there was a directive by the Minister of Transport, Mallam Idris Umar to that effect
“In line with the concern expressed by the honourable minister, we solicit your cooperation to stop the illegal collection of monies that contributes to the high cost of doing business in our ports” the letter further stated.
Information from National Mirror was used in this report.