The federal government has said that with effect from January 1, 2017, access to the nation’s seaports, airports and land border stations will be restricted to only those with genuine business to do at the ports and are registered with the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
The Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who announced this at meeting with the leadership of the five registered freight forwarding associations and the Registrar of CRFFN, Sir Mike Jukwe at Abuja recently said one cannot access the ports when such a person had no business being at the ports.
Briefing our correspondent on the outcome of the meeting, the National President, Association of Registered Freight Forwarders Nigeria (AREFFN), DR. Frank Ukor noted that this decision by the Minister was informed by the outcome of the meeting he held with investors from America and Europe.
According to Ukor,”The Minister started with the issue of security at the ports. He said that he went to America and some European countries to find out about their security and to lobby people to come and do business here in Nigeria and they gave condition that for them to come, we have to ensure that there is security at the ports and what do they mean by security? You cannot access the ports when you don’t have any business being there.
“Now, they are trying to fashion out something like biometric ID card for everybody that operates at the ports but the agency to take charge of that has not been named. When that happens, it means that every other person must have a biometric ID card. It is that card that can open the gate for you. If you have the card and have a genuine business to do, they will allow you into the ports, if not you cannot go in. He (Amaechi) said that that is going to take off in January 2017”.
Speaking further on the outcome of the meeting, Ukor recalled that the provisions of Act 19 sections 1 and 2 provided that for any agency that operates licensing regime to issue anyone with its license to operate at the ports, such agency should ensure that such person first obtain a clearance from the CRFFN which he said the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) had not been doing.
“So, it was drummed into customs that they should start implementing it. So, from next year, whoever wants to renew his license for 2017 must first of all go and clear with the CRFFN because if you don’t, you won’t be able to renew your license and customs has agreed that that is exactly what they are going to do.
“So, we are expecting that before anybody can release or clear his cargo from the ports, he must have gotten his clearance from the CRFFN because when you have gotten your registration with the CRFFN, you use the same thing to register with NPA, terminal operators and shipping lines”, he said.
The AREFFN boss added that the Minister advised that all registered associations should collect annual subscription from their members and remit same to the government through the CRFFN.
He said, “You remember in 2010, CRFFN registered people and those that were registered paid their annual subscriptions before their names appeared on the register. Since then, people don’t go to renew their annual subscriptions. So, now, they are asking for the backlog of the period between 2011 and 2015 and that is a lot of money. I wonder how many people will have the money to pay”.
He therefore advised that the practitioners should be prepared to pay their annual subscriptions to CRFFN and to their associations adding that they should first of all pay to their associations before proceeding to pay that of the CRFFN before the council would issue certificates to them to go and submit to the customs for customs License renewal.
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