The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) yesterday flagged off the collection of the Practitioners’ Operating Fee (POF) in Lagos with practical demonstration of the step by step payment procedure on the Council’s portal before newsmen, some members of the Governing Council as well as some top members of the CRFFN Management.
Speaking during the flagging off ceremony at the CRFFN Headquarters in Lagos, the Registrar and Chie Executive Officer of the Council, Barr. Samuel Nwakohu observed that the Council had worked very hard to make sure that the objective was actualized adding that it was going to be a soft launch.
He said, “I am sure most of you know what a soft launch is. A soft launch simply means that it is a launch which for now is restricted to the seaports. It is a phased thing; we will get to the airports or to the other borders eventually. And the soft launch is going to take like two to three weeks which simply means that it is a period that we will use to observe the technology. We have observed it but you know there is a difference between when you are on the field and when you do it in your office. It is going to be two to three weeks, we will look at it and whatever challenges we get; we have a response team, a sixteen member response team on ground that will attend to people. Their telephone numbers, their emails are all in the portal.”
Nwakohu reiterated that for every forty foot containers cleared at the port, the freight forwarder was to pay N2, 000 while the sum of N1, 000 was to be paid for every twenty foot container.
Taking the audience through the payment process on the portal he listed the following steps to be taken by freight forwarders to ensure seamless payment; Step 1- Access the CRFFN Portal –www.crffn.ng.gov. Step 2 –Log in with your membership number and your password. Step 3 –Select “Generate POF” tab from your dashboard. Step 4 –Enter Bill of LadingNumber. Step 5 –System will validate the Bill of Lading number and display your invoice. Step 6 – Make payment via the following payment method; 6.1 – Pay at the bank (Any Commercial Bank) using the acknowledgement slip generated. 6.2 – E-Wallet. 6.3 – Card (Net Banking). Step 7 – Print your payment receipt. Step 8 – Present your payment receipt at terminal for cargo exit.
Explaining how the portal works, the Registrar stated, “What we did is for each account; we open an E-Wallet. If you have your BVN number attached to the account, automatically, the system will open a wallet for you where you can keep funds aside for the transactions you will be running. So, if you inpute this, you will see N6, 000, it will deduct N6, 000 from your wallet. Once they resolve it, it will return back your balance to your wallet within 48 hours. Even with password having been put in, it will still not process, it has to generate one time password OTTP from your bank just like when you are buying an air ticket online. So, when that is generated now, he will input it and you will be debited.”
While presenting the printed receipt at the end of the process, he said, “This is the receipt, it is this receipt that the freight forwarder will now take to the terminal operator at the end of his transactions to exit his cargo. Now, the terminal operator will have for now because we have not integrated with the terminal operators, XL Sheet with them where these details will appear. So, they will tick from that XL Sheet. That XL Sheet will be provided by us because as this is printing, it is also storing all this information. So, at the end of the day or every two hours or three hours, we will also print them out and send to the terminal operators.
“So that we don’t get it mixed up, the terminal operator has nothing to do with going through this process, he has absolutely nothing to do with it. The only role the terminal operator plays is to verify your receipt against the controlled document he has to ensure that you have paid before you can exit your cargo.”
He continued, “Gentlemen, I am delighted to announce that POF has been logically driven o its final point. All the processes we have gone through, you have noticed today, to God I give the glory. Yes, it has taken off effectively but like I said, it is a soft launch and you know for every technology, it takes time for it to mature.
On whether a freight forwarder who is not conversant with the process can make the payment through a third party, Barr. Nwakohu responded in the affirmative saying “there is a sixteen member support group but what will happen is that you have to release your personal details, things like your pin number to the person which is something I don’t encourage because tomorrow something goes wrong, you come and say oh! You are the one I gave my pin number; you must have been responsible for this.
“What you need, as long as you can read and write, is to be able to access the portal using your registration number and all that. We have sent the steps to get payment to all the accredited associations. We also have an App which we have also sent to them. Since this is stage by stage, it is like sending a text message or making a phone call, there is absolutely nothing I can do for you if you are unable to send somebody a text message.
“So, those provisions are there, it is a very simple system to operate. We made the technology very user friendly and very soon, we will launch it on Google Play and iOS and Apple Store. So, you can download it on your phone so that even on your phone, once you have your bill of lading number, you can do your transaction. It is a very simple process because we have taken into consideration people that are going to use this technology that is why we made it very simple. All in all, it will take you forty-six seconds to one minute from the beginning to the end of the process.”
He however pointed out that one had to be a registered freight forwarder to access the platform because such a practitioner had to use his or her registration number to access all other facilities within the platform.
“That is why in addressing POF, we have also addressed the registration because we know that registration is a condition precedent to you going through the POF process”, he added.
“We have done full migration; we have migrated completely from 1.0 to 2.0. The former portal was 1.0. If you haven’t registered, if you haven’t paid your annual subscription, you can’t log in. So, you now start the process of finding what to do. But I am sure that in the next one week, most of them will get familiar with it. If we don’t start, we may not know what the issues are. So, I am glad we are starting today and we will make progress from here.
On how the monies would be recovered for sharing among the stakeholders at the end of the day and the frequency of the sharing, the Registrar explained that “monies are swept into TSA (Treasury Single Accoung), then from there, applications are made. It is when it gets to the TSA that everybody will write his invoice and get paid his percentage. That we haven’t decided on that but we hope that it will be as frequently as possible.”
Speaking on how he will track monies generated from the process since the collection is done by a contractor, SW Global, he said, “there is an environment which when I come in in the morning, I can put on which shows me the level of activities. Now, we have been doing a lot of trials, the thing is flagged off today, they will shut down, I am sure of number of abuses I will get in the next how many hours but I am ready for it, I am not worried. It is a soft launch, don’t forget that but that doesn’t mean that I will let people carry containers out of the wharf without paying. But if you have issue, if you don’t report the issue, I will not allow you carry your container effective today (yesterday).”
Photo: CRFFN Registrar, Barr. Samuel Nwakohu presenting electronically generated receipt after a mock exercise to mark the flag off ceremony at the Council’s Headquarters in Lagos on Monday.
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