Even as the January 31 deadline for the expiration of the first phase of the Joint Security Operation Ex-Swift Response approaches, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has called for the re-opening of the Nigeria’s borders, if the for the closure have been taken care of by the neigbouring countries.
Speaking at a press conference organised by the association on Wednesday, its founder; Dr. Boniface Aniebonam urged government to tidy up issues surrounding the closure in public interest.
He added that there was need for the government to have a roundtable discussion with her neighbours to discuss the way forward.
According to him, “whatever led government to take that action, we do hope that they have been able to tidy it up”
"And I think firstly, our neighbours should be brought to a roundtable to discuss these issues. Secondly, if there are any lapses that cannot allow implementation of trade policies at the border line, then let us address the issues.
"If the government has not concluded whatever made them to shut down the border, they should tidy it up in the interest of the public” he said.
Speaking also on the state of the nation’s ports, Aniebonam lamented that not much has been done to tackle the inflow of cargoes which has led to congestion at the port.
He said “We know that the port is a gateway to the nation’s economy and if that’s the case, something urgent has to be done. Cargo handling has increased and apparently, it appears that we are not doing so much to take the inflow of cargoes. At the moment, you will agree with me that the port is stressed and it means we will continue to have the issue of congestion.
"The things that we thought the port concession would have solved are currently raising uglier heads, although there has been improvement in cargo handling.”
“A trip that could cost few hours now takes six days. When you now return your container, the container deposit is eventually deleted and the shipping companies take the container deposit. The money is also leaving the country and we are losing a lot of money”, he lamented.
On the Council for the Regulations of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Dr Aniebonam maintained that the council is a baby of NAGAFF and not an agency of the government, he said the association will pursue the cause even up to the supreme court to proof that the council is not a government agency.
“The council is a baby of NAGAFF, the council was first introduced to the national assembly by NAGAFF before Nigerian Shippers Council came to our aid.
“The freight forwarding council is for the betterment of the young freight forwarders.”
He however urged the council to synergize with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in ensuring productivity for economy development.
He said CRFFN operations have made the job easy for customs and there is need to build integrity, adding that the process of collaboration among the two agencies of government will further add value and boost revenue collection for the government.
“So I look forward to seeing the Customs and CRFFN entering most strategic partnership with a view of increasing productivity in the port industry and this is very critical. That should be done as fast as possible”, he advised.