The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has warned that freight forwarders who are not registered with the Council may not be able to operate in any of the nation’s entry points, once collection of the Practitioners Operating Fee (POF) begins.
Registrar of the Council, Barrister Samuel Nwakohu who said this at the Marina, Lagos office of the Council, was speaking ahead of the much-expected commencement of the collection of the fee.
Allaying earlier fears that collection of POF will be manual, the CRFFN Registrar disclosed that the council has devised IT-driven means of getting the fees collected, stressing that there might not be any need to employ people to enforce the collection.
Nwakohu who admitted that there may be some resistance to the collection of POF, however warned that it would be difficult for freight forwarder to do businesses in the ports without properly registering with the CRFFN.
"In any given situation, you don't expect everybody to comply; there must be pockets of resistance here and there. I want to tell you that what we are doing is fully backed by law"
"I have been very careful saying this, but it will be very difficult to do business as a freight forwarder here in Nigeria if you are not registered with CRFFN because you cannot log in, if you have not paid, you can't take your container out"
"I am basically informing stakeholders in the industry and freight forwarders in particular how the POF regime is going to function"
"It is not going to be a manual thing; it is going to be fully automated. We have the mandate of the federal government to ask our technical partner, SW Global to be the ones to collect for us”
"So the system we have put in place if self-enforcing, we don't need armed personnel to go and enforce it, technology will enforce it. If you don't pay you can't exit your cargo"
According to him, the council has agreed with the Seaport Terminal Operators of Nigeria (STOAN) on how to go about the collection.
"We have heard meetings with STOAN, we have talked on how they are going to support it and they said they are ready. And we agreed on integration which we said will take about 3-5 weeks but that will not stop the commencement of the collection of POF"
"You must be able to show evidence that you have paid before you can take your container that is what it is all about with them. By the time we integrate fully what you need to do is to give them reference number of your Bill of Laden".