Concerned by the menace of the fake and unregistered freight forwarders at the seaports, land border stations and airports in Nigeria, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has called on the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to intensify its effort towards ensuring that quacks and touts are no longer able to perpetrate fraudulent activities in this important profession.
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Barr. Hassan Bello who made the call while delivering a lecture to mark the Prince Olayiwola Shittu Colloquium @ 68 in Lagos recently also suggested that the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) must be reviewed to include a provision requiring registration with CRFFN first, as one of the conditions for the issuance of customs license.
Bello believed that this would go a very long way in helping to attain professionalism in the industry in Nigeria.
He posited that freight forwarders must be professionals just as the lawyers arguing that they were not different from lawyers as according to him, what the lawyers were doing in the society was what freight forwarders were doing within the industry and even more.
In his words,” So, professionalism should be number one but recognition should be one, licensing should also be one. I am afraid that touting could reach a stage where we find even the presence of people at the ports so many and this will compromise a lot of things. But if we have professional freight forwarders, no one needs to be at the ports, you could just sit down in your office and make payments online, clear the goods and track the cargo and if the freight forwarder is a professional, he will negotiate even the freight with the carriers, he could negotiate local shipping charges with the shipping companies and do a lot of things but this must mean training and professionalizing the profession.
“Looking into the future, a situation where shippers bypass traditional freight forwarders by booking their own cargo for transit is no longer in the realm of dreams because this is also a very important thing. I will suggest that we try to create a freight forwarding institution accredited by the National Universities Commission and supervised by it or by whatever agency but there must be conscious effort to develop this profession and I think National Universities Commission should come in and assist I trying to make this really a professional issue.
“So, despite what the freight forwarders have done for this country, despite their landmark achievements, having the Council for the Regulation Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, having elections into this council and being part of the movement to sanitize the industry, I still think there is a lot of challenges and I think, coming together under different fora, trying to make it an economic base rather than any other thing, we look at international standards and try to direct those standards so that our economy will grow”.
The NSC boss recalled that the freight forwarding subsector of the maritime industry in Nigeria has faced a lot of criticisms as regards to the level of professionalism of the practitioners in the industry even as he observed that it had been argued that the Nigeria Customs Service through its legal framework, Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) had only succeeded in licensing customs brokerage firms not on the basis of any certifiable robust training they had taken but rather on ability to pay statutory registration fees and then complying with other laid down licensing procedures.
” Consequently, this has resulted in the emergence of a non-professional freight forwarding practice in Nigeria mainly due to lack of effective institutional development framework leading to annual loss of hundreds of billions of Naira as a result of non-professional companies and fraudulent practices. Overtime, this practice was observed by FIATA as a professional deficit and the industry has also agreed to that.
“There is a menace posed by the activities of touts among the midst of the freight forwarders. Fake and unregistered freight forwarders at the seaports, at the land border stations and the airports and that is extremely dangerous. It is practice that has been carved by the professional body, the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) but there is also lack of synergy among the various freight forwarding associations and the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria and this is also a gap that must be looked at. They are supposed to regulate especially on the training. All the economy is saying is that the practice of freight forwarding is so important that it cannot be left for touts and unprofessional people to perform”, he said.
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