The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) has said that it is set to commence collection of the much-talked-about Practitioners Operating Fee (POF).
Registrar of the council, Barrister Samuel Nwakohu who said this at the Marina, Lagos office was speaking ahead of the commencement of the collection of the fee.
He however added that the council will commence the collection of the fee “any moment from now”
Nwakohu said that a 20ft container would attract a fee of N1,000 while a 40ft container would attract N2,000 before it was cleared from the port.
"We have been working with our technical partner, SW Global and I am glad to inform all of you that we are ready and that any moment from now, POF will go live.
The Registrar maintained that the council lacks the adequate finance to run its daily activities, adding that the POF will go a long way in assisting the council with its daily expenses.
"Some of you have heard me over the time talk about the inadequate funding to run this place. My overhead to run the council is N 2.7million monthly and it is not regular. I think for last year, we had 7-8 months released and it doesn't come regular as at when due. So it becomes extremely difficult to run the council"
Giving details of the sharing formula for proceeds from the POF, Nwakohu said that 25% will go to the federal government through the Treasury Single Account (TSA), 20% to the council, 20% to the SW Global and 35% to the Practitioners.
"S. W Global is not just for collecting, they get 20% of it not just for collecting POF they are our technical partners, we have been through a lot, like training and funding most of the things we have been doing. They built the portal and they did most of the integration. So it is not just for collecting it is whole package we have"
"We have started the process of integration with Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). But as at today, I am delighted to say you that we have been able to ingrate fully with NPA and NCS"
Stressing further, he said that the council has not been able to integrate fully with NCAA adding that negotiations are ongoing to fully integrate with the agency.
Nwakohu, added that the council has devised technical means of getting the fees collected stressing that there might not be any need to employ people to enforce the collection.
"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"
Nwakohu who admitted that there will be some resistance in the collection of POF however warned that it will be difficult for freight forwarder to do businesses in the port without properly registering with the agency.
"Like I have always told you people in any giving situation you don't expect anybody 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"
He predicted that when the platform fully kicks off, it will be generating over N5billion annually into the coffers of the government.
The CRFFN boss also added that it has gone to the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC)to get a business case.
"The full business case which the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) prepared projected N5billion per annum, but with the technology we have on ground it is my believe that we will surpass that. In the first year we may hit that N5billion because there may be challenges up and there but as the challenges come we will fine tune them" he concluded.