The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has said that there was no iota of truth in the insinuations making the rounds that its impact was not felt by the freight forwarders in particular and maritime industry in general during the Covid-19 lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.
Speaking in an interview with Primetime Reporters in Lagos on Wednesday, the Registrar of the Council, Barr. Samuel Nwakohu while describing the allegation as untrue maintained that there was actually no basis for that allegation.
He said, “If there was anybody who worked during lockdown, I am one of them. I think there is something fundamentally wrong if the allegation as you said today was actually made. Wrong in the sense that you are regulating somebody’s activities and the person does not recognize you, the person does not recognize what the law has put in place, so, it is a problem. Either it is a bad law or the people who are supposed to be regulated have refused to be regulated or have refused to submit themselves.
“Look, on the face of that Covid fear, lockdown which most of us have not experienced before, my team and I were out virtually every day. That was when the maritime task team was created, I chaired it. 70 percent of members of that maritime task team are freight forwarders, I brought them.
“Resources differ from agency to agency; I may not have ten buses to put on the road. Mr. President had announced that ports nationwide should remain open, if ports should remain open and the freight forwarders are not working, the essence is defeated. So, between Shippers’ Council and myself, we agreed on a number of things because it was time for team work, it was time for collective effort; collaboration. I brought out the two buses I have, I have two buses in Lagos and Shippers’ Council brought out five originally. Now, those buses could not go on their own, we have to put security personnel in them, CRFFN made all the arrangements.
“So, how can anybody possibly say that CRFFN impact was not felt? Meetings were held, from there, resolutions were passed, I was at Apapa port, I did sensitization at Apapa port, I did sensitization at Tincan port, I did sensitization at Cargo Airport. In fact, at Tincan, I was insulted several times over, some groups that came to ask me why are we just coming, where are the things government gave to us to give to them. The 2020 budget is a public budget, go to my website, go to the Federal Ministry of Finance website, you will see it, ask me if there is any line item to give to freight forwarders or indeed to give to anybody.
“We provided transportation to ease the movement of freight forwarders, we provided security for them, we provided ID cards, we provided personal protective equipment, On Duty stickers, we provided some vests, the meetings on the Covid-19, they were fed, the leadership of the freight forwarders were provided with a lunch pack, sanitizers were brought and given to the people from the seaports to the Airport, face masks were produced and given to each association. We gave lectures.”
While observing that freight forwarders were not ready to be regulated as none of them had said anything good about CRFFN which according to him was bad, hence he was trying to change them, he added, “but I can also understand that if for years they have been on their own and suddenly, there comes this man that says no, he has to be under control, there are bound to be some level of resistance.”
Photo: CRFFN Registrar, Barr. Samuel Nwakohu.
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