Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, has condemned the failure of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to effectively regulate freight forwarding practice in the country, saying that the situation has given birth to many quacks.
Aniebonam, who stated this in a press release sent to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY, lamented that CRRRN is not playing the role assigned to it by law and has thus failed to justify its establishment.
According to the NAGAFF Founder; “The trading public in Nigeria is being deceived by quacks parading themselves as freight forwarders. It is the duty of freight agents to guide, enlighten, educate and carry out other functions in relation to cross border trade, in-line with trade policies of Nigeria. The situation on ground is that the trading public is unduly assured of thriving in illegality in our international trade. On the contrary, there is the apparent loss of investment by the trading public in the hands of Customs and other regulatory agencies of the government. CRFFN as a regulatory agency domiciled in the Transport Ministry is expected to control freight forwarding practice in Nigeria. It is expected to set standards and code of professional practice among the practitioners.”
Aniebonam also took a swipe at importers and exporters for not respecting government’s guidelines on import and export thereby leading to high level anti-smuggling operations by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other agencies of government.
“There are clear indications that the Nigeria Customs Service and other regulatory agencies of the government have intensified anti-smuggling operations and the fight against sub-standard, fake and adulterated products imported into Nigeria.
“Whereas, we commend their effort in this regard, it is equally important that we draw the attention of the trading public as to the need to respect import and export regulations of the government. It is our considered opinion that this unwholesome breach of import guidelines has to stop because the losses are not in any way helping the economy of Nigeria. We cannot continue to enrich other nations to the detriment of the Nigerian economy”, he stated.
The NAGAFF founder said his association is worried because the economy is suffering as a result of the high rate of seizures of imported goods.
“It is a mandate on the part of Customs and other regulatory agencies of the government to enforce import and export regulations of the government, which must not be compromised. Such government agencies however bask in jubilation of winning anti smuggling war, but on the contrary the country’s economy is nose-diving into unprecedented poverty. The point here is that if these traders continue to lose their investments in this manner, the desire of local manufacturing in Nigeria will remain a mirage”, he said.
Aniebonam urged the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, to “step forward and implement the intendment of the Act establishing CRFFN in collaboration with critical stakeholders.”
He also charged the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. NgoziOkonjo-Iweala, to “factor the informal sector group of the economy” even as he advised the Nigeria Customs Service and other regulatory agencies of the government to imbibe the concept of corrective measures instead of outright seizure of defaulting goods.
“The Orientation Agency of the Government should step forward to educate and enlighten traders. It is our view that we should exercise restraint equally in seizing goods because the greater number of these traders usually resorts to unwholesome acts after they have lost their investments in the hands of government agencies. There is no doubt that our government is spending so much to combat criminal activities which is avoidable”, Aniebonam stated.
He said government will appreciate the enormous amount of goods seized over the past ten years if the Finance Minister calls for the value of seized goods during the period.
He also called for the transmutation of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) into an economic regulator to address problems at the seaports.