Freight Forwarders under the aegis of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) who recently threatened to down tools over the alleged imposition of illegal charges by shipping agents operating in the country have been advised against such move.
President of the Nigerian Institute of Freight Forwarders, Dr. Zeb Ikokide, gave the advice in Lagos during a chat with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY. He said that rather than take action that could jeorpadise port operation, ANLCA should table its grievances before the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) which the federal government recently appointed port economic regulator.
“They should make a formal report to the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) because I have been in several committees by the NSC that used to monitor the payment of the various fees shipping companies charge for their services and the NSC normally monitors them through these committees and the committees will look at their charges and approve the legal charges and disapprove the illegal charges.
“Agency fee cannot be paid by the cargo owner. There is no way the cargo owner will pay the agency fee. If it is charter party agreement that will make the shipper pay that agency fee, that means the cargo owner charter the vessel and is to pay the shipping company their agency fee.
“It is the charterer of the vessel that will pay the agency fee. The shipping company has no right to be collecting agency fee from cargo owners because they have paid freight charges and the shipping company would have calculated the various charges into the freight rate,” Ikokide stated.
He also described the appointment of the NSC as port economic regulator as a welcome development. He said the absence of statutory backing for the council should not hinder its ability to deliver on its new mandate.
On the current state of affairs of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Ikokide said that the council has not failed as a regulatory body.
He said the major problem confronting the CRFFN is lack of fund – a problem which, according to him, the council will soon overcome.
“CRFFN has not failed because a lot of things are happening which is not known to the general public now but as soon as the fund is available for them to go ahead and get this thing done, you find out that they will rise again. We should differentiate the work of CRFFN from the work of freight forwarding associations.
“CRFFN has not failed and I think they will bounce back as soon as they have the fund,” Ikokide said.
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