The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) is the regulatory body of freight forwarders in Nigeria.
Established by the CRFFN Act No 16 of 2007, the regulatory body is saddled with the primary responsibility of regulating and controlling the practice of freight forwarding in the country.
Of note is the word ‘saddled’ because it has been proven that the Council finds it rather cumbersome coping with this responsibility.
With the multitude of fake freight forwarders in the industry, dispute among freight forwarding associations and dearth of knowledge about the practice, it is obviously an onerous task for the regulatory body to instill professionalism in the industry.
The internal strife within the Council is enough to make the regulatory body lose focus in performing its statutory role.
The regulatory body has had to battle with its member associations over the collection of transaction fees.
The Minister of Transport- the supervising minister of the Council, had in a letter with reference number T.0160/S.172/1 dated 3rd July, 2012 titled RE: REPORT ON THE STAKEHOLDERS MEETINGS ON THE ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION AND OTHER FEES TO BE COLLECTED BY THE COUNCIL FOR THE REGULATION OF FREIGHT FORWARDING IN NIGERIA (CRFFN ) addressed to Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) approved the collection of transaction fees for airports, seaports and land borders cargoes by the Council.
This approval however generated bad blood between the Council and its two initially accredited freight forwarding associations as these associations had earlier concluded plans to commence the collection of the fees themselves before the ministerial directive.
The hostility heightened when the Council offered its member associations subventions out of the yet-to-be collected fees which the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) rejected with reason that they both deserve more than subventions.
Following the series of disagreement between the CRFFN and leaders of ANLCA and NAGAFF, the government withdrew its approval from the Council to collect transaction fees and annual subscription fees from its members.
Needless to say that since this saga, CRFFN has been ‘wobbling and fumbling’ as one of its member practitioners would say.
Apart from the payment of staff salaries, government also refused to fund the CRFFN’s operational activities, including travels of its top officials.
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY investigations revealed that, since last year, the Federal Government has not made any provision for funds in the national budget for the implementation of key programmes and activities of the CRFFN.
Faced with paucity of funds and an uncertain source of more, the Council has been lying low until a few months ago when the Registrar, Sir Mike Jukwe, flagged off the Council’s enforcement programme.
The enforcement programme which flagged off on 1st September 2013 was to ensure that practitioners register properly with the Council, pay its prescribed fees and to this effect are issued identification cards that allow them to practice.
It is important to note that shortly before the flag off of the enforcement programme, the Council made up with its two leading freight forwarding associations.
A grace period of one month was given by the enforcement team for practitioners to fulfill the requirements else they will be arrested and prosecuted for illegally practicing.
According to Jukwe, the deadline for these requirements to be met is 31st September 2013 and enforcement of the regulations commence on 1st October 2013 after a month of sensitization of practitioners and stakeholders in the industry.
It is two months now from the deadline and fake freight forwarders still roam freely at the nation’s ports.
I have not until now seen the orange- colored beret wearing enforcement officers that gave a beautiful parade on 1st September 2013 at the ports or border posts.
Was that all a show?