After several months of bickering, the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (CRFFN) has commenced the collection of the Practitioners Operating Fee (POF).
It warned that freight forwarders who fail to comply would not be allowed to exit the ports with their containers.
With the new initiative, he said the council would now be fully equipped to regulate freight forwarding in the country, adding that as a noble profession, freight forwarding is not an all comers’ affair.
Following the conclusion of the integration with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the CRFFN had in January this year announced plans to commence the collection of POF in all seaports in the country, a move that was held back by fierce protest by freight forwarders and COVID-19.
Speaking in Lagos during a media briefing earmarked to announce the collection of the POF, Registrar/CEO of the CRFFN, recently, Sam Nwakohu, revealed that any freight forwarder that refuses to comply with POF payment will not be allowed to carry his or her cargo out of the ports.
According to the CRFFN Registrar, “We are glad to inform you that following successful integration with terminal operators in the western ports, enforcement of POF collection has now commenced.”
This is just as he revealed that only 64 freight forwarders out of a total registered 787 freight forwarders are currently practicing legitimately at the nation’s ports and borders points.
He added that the POF, which is derived from the provisions of section 6 of the CRFFN Act is a major source of the Council’s internally generated revenue, first for the government and second to drive the necessary reforms and develop the industry
According to him, “Integration with terminal operators in the Eastern ports is on-going and we shall communicate to you accordingly with respect to enforcement of same in the Eastern ports.
“The user public is strongly advised to verify the authenticity of the freight forwarder they wish to engage on the CRFFN website. This is to ensure you are dealing with a registered freight forwarder.
“We really want to appreciate the body of shippers and freight forwarders who operate under very difficult conditions to keep Nigeria moving. The CRFFN will do her best to provide the enabling environment for the freight forwarding industry,” the CRFFN boss added.
On challenges expected from operators as regards the POF collection, Barrister Nwakohu stated, “I did not wake up one morning and decided that CRFFN should start collecting POF from operators. POF is nine years old, meaning it has been in the Council’s long before I became Registrar/CEO of the CRFFN. The laws have been made by government, and whoever decides that he or she won’t pay, then such a person will not take his or her cargo out of the ports.
“We have written to all the accredited associations. We are done with sensitisation. We will be publishing the names of freight forwarders whose subscriptions are up to date very soon on our website.”
He added, “As at today, we only have about 64 freight forwarders whose payments and subscriptions are up to date in line with the law regulating the freight forwarding practice in Nigeria. These are the people we can validly call freight forwarders as at today. We will be updating that list as more people pay their subscription to the CRFFN.
“On our register, we have 787 names of freight forwarders that are practicing at the ports and borders, but only 64 are practicing legitimately as at today.”