In a bid to curb the dominance of foreigners in the Nigerian freight forwarding sector, Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum (FFCF) has resolved to explore legal and regulatory strategies.
This was one of the core issues deliberated at the maiden meeting of the FFCF in Lagos yesterday, even as the group seeks to attain standardized uniform charges for freight forwarding services across the nation.
Although the Consultative Committee of the Council was established by Act of National Assembly to deepen and strengthen the duties of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), it has been crippled by paucity of funds over the years.
Speaking after the inaguration of the new Forum executives, the Chairman, Chief Henry Njoku outlined the roadmap to include; addressing foreign dominance in freight forwarding practice, expansion of FFCF to include other relevant stakeholders, digitalization of shipping companies and terminal operators services and charges, standardized uniform charges for freight forwarding service.
Other areas are; inclusion of freight forwarders in the Governing Board of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), deploying professionals for resolving Customs trade disputes in line with global best practices, FFCF to regulate trucking operations and charges, among others.
He, however, noted that the forum would be unbundled into smaller work groups to handle specific issues such as; Customs, terminals, shipping companies, Eastern ports, etc.
Noting that the CRFFN Governing Board Chairman and the Council’s Registrar attended the meeting, Njoku told journalists that the experience has availed the regulator and decision makers first-hand knowledge of industry stakeholders plight.
The meeting took a different turn after most of the participants noted that most of the issues affecting freight forwarding have been elaborately discussed in recent times with recommendations sent to Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha.
The Forum resolved to adopt the recent papers developed after robust meetings as initial working documents while encouraging members to send in additional issues and possible solutions.
Also speaking at the meeting, the Registrar of CRFFN, Barr. Samuel Nwakohu noted that he recently visited the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to seek clarity and best approaches to implementing some aspects of the Council’s regulation.
Meanwhile, a veteran maritime lawyer, Barr. Emmanuel Nwagbara encouraged the forum not to relent in its advocacy efforts to ensure indigenization of freight forwarding practice, adding that the desired results will be attained if the group persists.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the CRFFN Governing Board, Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni expressed confidence in the Forum and its Chairman, Henry Njoku.
Tsanni urged members to keep sentiments aside and put forward a united front to be able to tackle the myraid of issue bedeviling the port sector and freight forwarding.
His words: “Today is a very important day because we are all meeting to discuss industry problems. The much-desired changes in the sector will only occur when there is collaboration among all stakeholders and operators. This is what the Forum stands for. With several decades experience in this freight forwarding sector, Chief Henry Njoku as Chairman is well-placed to drive the needed changes.”
Tsanni also encouraged freight forwarders to accept the introduction of Practitioners Operating Fees (POF) as it is a viable source of revenue for CRFFN, FFCF and a guaranteed renumeration for freight agents as declarants.
Photo: (L-R): Dr. Kayode Farinto, Acting National President, ANLCA, Mr. Timothy Awogbemi, Member, CRFFN Governing Council, Barr. Samuel Nwakohu, Registrar, CRFFN; Chief Henry Njoku, Vice Chairman, CRFFN Governing Council and Chairman Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum and Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni, Chairman, CRFFN Governing Council during the meeting in Lagos yesterday.
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