By Stanley Ezenga
He whose house is on fire, don’t go about chasing rodent. The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria Act No. 16 2007 was enacted into law on the 30th of April, 2007. When the idea of CRFFN was mooted, progressive freight forwarders were over the hill with joy and expectations that uhuru is here at last, but 13 years down the line, it appears they are still having teething problems.
Perhaps, to understand the quantum of their failure, we may need to take a snippet of the role of CRFFN in the freight forwarding profession.
Section 4 of Act No. 16 of 2007 establishing the council charged it with the general duty of:
Determining the persons or cases of persons who constitute freight forwarders for the purposes of this Act;
Determining the standards of knowledge and skill to be attained by persons seeking to be registered as freight forwarders and raising those standards from time to time in accordance with international industry practice;
Regulating and controlling the practice of freight forwarding;
Regulating and controlling all the associations of freight forwarding agents;
Regulating and controlling persons who are engaged in freight forwarding;
Ensuring uniform standards of professional conduct and education relevant to freight forwarding practice;
Promoting the highest standard of competence, practice and conduct among members of the profession;
Securing, in accordance with the provisions of this Act the establishment and maintenance of registers of persons entitled to practice as registered freight forwarders and the publication from time to time of the list of such persons;
Encouraging participation of members in international exchange programme;
And performing any other functions conferred on the council by this Act.
How far have they gone in the execution of the functions enumerated above? The council is supposed to make sure that it is only those who are trained as professional freight forwarders that are practicing in the field and not fake freight forwarders; professionals are meant to have the RFF (Registered Freight Forwarder) tag which means the freight forwarder would have been trained, registered and his or her name must be in the register of freight forwarders in Nigeria.
The industry is still an all comer’s affairs as the council have failed to regulate and control those going into it. It will be recalled that immediately after the inauguration of this current board of governing council, they jetted out to Dubai on what was supposed to be a refresher course for greater productivity. Practitioners and stakeholders has been anxiously waiting for them to bring to bear in the industry knowledge and information garnered from that tour, but unfortunately it appears the council have gone into coma.
They cannot say to have accurate data of practicing freight forwarders in Nigeria. The practitioners have been waiting for the council to show direction.
Recently, the organised groups in the industry ( Freight Forwarders Association) having waited for them to show direction in their regulatory function have decided to take their destiny in their own hands by setting up various committees to address some of the challenges facing the industry especially the problems of non-compliance to trade rules and regulations. This is a move that should be applauded by the CRFFN but alas, it was met with condemnation.
How long do we have to wriggle under the weight of slumbering government agencies? We are yet to see and feel the impact of CRFFN as the regulatory agency in the freight forwarding profession, despite the budgetary allocation from government. We may have to call the relevant government agencies to look into their finance or order for a forensic audit. They offered to train freight forwarders as a way of building capacity being one of their core mandates.
A partnership with Redeemers University being one of the CRFFN accredited institution was formed to use NAGAFF facilities as a study center. Many young freight forwarders who have passion for knowledge enrolled for this training which spanned over three years, from certificate class to international higher diploma. Many years down the line, CRFFN is yet to meet their financial obligations to the school and the graduating students could not get their certificates. May we use this auspicious time to ask the CRFFN to do the needful to the institution concerned.
It is high time the CRFFN settled down and get to work. We may make further statements in this regard.
Fwdr. Stanley Ezenga is the National Publicity Secretary NAGAFF Headquarters.
Photo: The National Publicity Secretary,NAGAFF, Mr. Stanley Ezenga.
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