… Urges him, CRFFN to focus on tackling practitioners’ operational challenges
The Managing Director of Femat International Services Nigeria Limited, Mr. Olufemi Abiodun Olabanji has frowned at the comments credited to a member of the newly inaugurated Governing Council of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko suggesting that the CRFFN was going to scrap the payment and use of access cards by terminal operators at the ports.
Report has it that Alhaji Tanko stated that CRFFN would issue identity cards to all freight forwarders in place of access cards currently being imposed on them by the terminal operators.
However, reacting to the statement, Olabanji advised him to focus on tackling the myriads of challenges affecting freight forwarders rather than engaging in frivolities. He equally advised him not to push them into more problems than the CRFFN came to solve.
He said, “Normally, NPA has given us port pass and that port pass gives us access to all the ports. The terminal operators like the Grimaldi, have their own access card and I think the access card is still working which is still okay. But saying he would introduce another CRFFN ID card for freight forwarders is a wrong idea. He should not just come one day be telling us what to do.
“Like he said, the last Governing Council failed, since the CRFFN has been established, what has it done for us? I will say that I am among the second set of freight forwarders to be trained at the Redeemer’s University for which we just had our convocation at the University of Lagos. All the promises they made to us, they didn’t do any. Besides, everyone paid his or her school fees. I know it’s for our own benefit, the knowledge I acquired there, I am using it, I travel abroad, I do a lot of things with the knowledge I garnered from there.
“But at the same time, this CRFFN of a thing, even the government that claimed it’s their agency, all the money they have been collecting, what have they done with it? They have not done anything. He is just coming to power now and he’s sitting down in his office talking as if he’s the alpha and Omega of the freight forwarding industry. Please they should warn him. Before he makes any speech, he should seek advice. Freight forwarding practitioners are not his staff, we are not his staff.
“He is lucky to be part of the CRFFN Governing Council but before he makes any statement, he should listen and let the people advise him. He cannot just sit down and be talking as if he’s the head of everybody. He should know how to address issues. Now, he is talking of getting ID card, we should go and get ID card from CRFFN before we can operate. That won’t work.
“Every terminal has its own access card, NPA has its Port pass, if you are issuing ID card to your members as freight forwarding association, it’s a different thing but you should not use that to disturb our business at the port. For your information, if you finish your job, they (terminal operators) would ask you to go and pay for POF and after paying that amount, you still have to give them bribe. Before you can get your documents released from the shipping companies or from the terminals, you have to give their staff bribe for POF collection. What type of government are we running? We make a lot of payments that have no meaning.
“Now duty is going to increase, we are going to pay POF and you have to bribe the CRFFN officials. Government should take a look at all these things.”
While insisting that issuance of access cards by the terminal operators was a good idea as that was the only way they can protect the goods in their terminals, the Femat MD argued that if CRFFN begins to issue ID card to freight forwarders, it will be worse adding that such ID Cards would find their way into the wrong hands.
“You can see that a lot of people that came for the (CRFFN Governing Council) election were not freight forwarders, we know. They went out to hire people to come and vote for them. We knew all these things but we chose to overlook them so as to have peace in the industry.
“If he insisted that the CRFFN should be issuing ID card, it will worsen the situation. If they do, they will issue ID card to touts and all manner of people. They may consider issuing ID card to their (association) members but not to go and stop terminal operators. You cannot just come in because they elected you and because you are the Coordinator of 100% Compliance Team, you will now say you will cancel this and that.
“Let the terminal operators operate their terminals the way they are operating it. Let each terminal and shipping company operate its terminal the way it seems good to it. Let them come up with the best way to safeguard the goods in their terminals. We remember when NPA was handling cargo operations at the port, you bring your goods and cut the keys, you will discover that half of the goods were stolen but go to PTML now, the goods are intact. When your goods come from abroad, you will meet your goods in good shape even when some of the goods are stolen, you complain to the terminal manager and where proven to be true, they will pay you back. They have paid my client some money.
“So, let everyone manage his terminal. For instance, if we have ten agents that have license, we have more than thirty agents that have no license that are using other people’s license. So, if you are saying that we should go and collect ID card from CRFFN, what type of ID card are they going to give us? How unique is the ID card?
“What I am saying is that the CRFFN Governing Council members should know what they are doing, if they have come to assist us, they should not emphasize on money because all these money we are paying fall back to importers. NPA has given us port pass, they should be able to make the port pass work effectively, they should not allow any other agency to override theirs”, he submitted.
Photo: Mr. Olufemi Abiodun Olabanji, Managing Director, Femat International Services Nigeria Limited.
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