The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has condemned delays, bureaucracies and the multiplication of tables created by officers of the Nigeria Customs Service before cargoes are released, especially bonded cargoes.
Speaking exclusively with Shipping Position Daily, Chairman of CRFFN Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement Committee of CRFFN, Mr. Timothy Awogbemi however assured freight forwarders that with the inauguration of the CRFFN and the subsequent deployment of his committee, the challenges would be resolved in partnership with the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Alli (rtd).
He said that documents sometimes pass through a lot of tables and human interface before they are released for the bonded terminals where they would still be subjected to another round of rigorous checks.
He said “He said there is unnecessary bureaucracy in clearing of bonded cargoes, the number of tables you go to approve a single document is too much, the number of people you interface with just on one document is too much, meanwhile some of them just create it as just an avenue, it is not really necessary”
“Policies are there but the implementation is always too poor because they put their own factor which is the Nigerian factor, I just believe that by the time we start, there would be a lot of changes”
“As soon as we resume, we would write the customs, the way the CRFFN works, some of the decisions still needs to be taken back to the council, you don’t just seat down and say this is what you want to do” he said.
Awogbemi harped on the need for training of freight forwarders, saying that most of them do not understand their right and this is why they keep paying unnecessary monies to the customs in getting their cargoes.
According to him, about twenty years ago, freight forwarding profession was occupied by touts, but today educated individuals have taken over the profession. He however said there is still need for training.
“The major challenge we have right now is training, we want to really educate our people, don’t forget that in those days about twenty years ago, it is only the touts that does this job, it is only now that you have educated people coming into the business and taking it over, but that believe and bad image is still there, this is why we need to separate the professionals from those who are not”
“Education is the key here, most of the money we pay to customs, if you know your right, you would not pay them, but because most of them do not know their right they continue to pay” he said.
The CRFFN Committee Chairman however lamented that the number of seating in the Council might affect effective decision making of the committees. He said the council only meets once or twice in a month. He said whenever there are urgent steps to be taken; he would still have to wait to get approval from council members.
“When you are taking a major decision you have to pass it to the whole council and they would give you go ahead. Although I am trying to tell them that this is an internal bureaucracy that will slow down a lot of things, the council would be meeting once or twice in a month, and if you have something urgent to do then you have to wait to get approval and more so when people do not like your face you might not get the approval, this has always been the politics in Nigeria”
“Even when you have a good policy and your face is not what they want to see, you will not get approval and support you needed, in Nigeria we tend to put politics in everything” he said