The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) yesterday demanded that the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and other government agencies previously sacked from the nation’s seaports be asked to return.
The association which made this demand through its founder, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam in a press briefing in Lagos, said that their demand was predicated on the series of harassment freight forwarders face on the city highways in the hands of the various government agencies on their way to deliver consignments to the owners’ warehouses after they had passed horrifying experiences in the hands of same government agencies at the seaports.
Aniebonam stated that it was in the opinion of NAGAFF that idea of agencies of government being invited to the ports only when the need arose was not working adding that though those agencies were asked to come to ports only on invitation, those agencies were right there at the ports.
“Just about two or three days ago, we all saw on television where the Senate Committee on Standardization was advocating the need for Standards Organization to return to the ports. You are also aware as the resident reporters of the industry that NAFDAC is back to the ports. There’s this issue of tramadol, codein and all that. Tramadol for instance, if it is 100 milligrams, it’s a controlled drug; in other words, it’s under the purview of NAFDAC for you to get the permit for you to clear. In other words, it’s a restricted drug under prescription but the inherent abuse of that product has now raised some level of work. It appears to us that that was what NAFDAC probably used strongly to bring itself back to the ports.
“But I think that if codein, tramadol is now a major issue that it is banned then it now means that that particular product will now move to drugs, that is narcotics, it is going to fall under the purview of NDLEA. So, if tramadol above 100 milligrams for instance, you see now, it is drug, NDLEA is not at the ports now or the entry points do they have the powers to pick up such products?
“We cannot continue to deceive ourselves because they are right there in the ports and it takes government time to listen and take advantage of those players and getting to know what the correct thing is, will help them make their policies because what is on ground is not adding value. Before this time it was officially pronounced that NAFDAC is back to the ports, the NAFDAC officials were in the ports. So, we will be looking at the inherent abuse, unofficially, they are in the ports, officially, they are not in the ports.
“I will give you a good example, when they come in to examine a particular container and that particular container will take them the whole day, it means any other container that is on ground there is under watch. So, they are there, SON they are there but being there unofficially has now created more problem than solving the matter because if they are there unofficially, it’s all about conniving or conspiring, that is why you find these substandard products in the market all over the places and so, we are just deceiving ourselves but who is suffering it? The freight forwarders.
“What we are saying now is that, this issue of inviting agencies of the government when there is need is not working but what is worrying us more is that even when you have contended with all these agencies at the ports, on your way to the owner’s warehouse, the same container is picked up. But the irony of it all is that when they pick these containers, you will see an infraction that is startling, what is going on? We keep on recycling and keep on going round, there is no peace. These freight forwarders that you see at the age of 25, 30, 35 are hypertensive, 90% of them are hypertensive because they never have rest of mind”, he said.
He however blamed the government which he said in most cases made laws it could not enforce thereby questioning the existence of enforcement arm of the government.
He continued, “What we are saying now, to cut this matter short is that we are tired, SON should come back to the ports, NAFDAC back to port, NDLEA back to port, all of them come back, let us finish this matter once and for all and wherein the matter cannot be finished within a reasonable time of two to three hours, if it has to do with SON, let them escort the container to the owners’ warehouse, if it is NAFDAC regulated product, follow the container with the agent to the owner’s warehouse. Our job is to deliver the goods to the owner’s warehouse and then you follow up.
“Our problem is that we are tired of having succeeded with all the problems at the ports, on the road again, we can get rest. We cannot continue to lose our investments”.
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