The National Coordinator Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders Importers and Exporters Coalition (SNFFIEC) Chief Osita Chukwu, has condemned the collection of the Practitioner Operating Fee (POF) at the nation's ports
Under the POF regime, importers will pay N3.50 on every ton of cargo imported into the country, N1.50 per kilo of every air cargo, N1,000 on every imported 20-feet container and 2,000 per 40-feet container. The POF is being collected by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
However, speaking to journalists on Tuesday, the SNFFIEC Coordinator informed that the collection of the POF will be a hinderance to the ease of doing business initiative of the Federal Government.
He noted that collecting the POF at a time when the nation is still battling the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic will be adding to the negative impact of the pandemic
Osita Chukwu said that CRFFN has mandated the terminal operators and shipping companies to reject any freight forwarder who brings any cargo delivery paper without showing proof of payment of the POF
He said if the government failed to address the issue, it will leave the group with no choice but to seek redress at the court of law, while alleging that government established CRFFN to rip-off freight forwarders and the public.
"Government has established CRFFN to rip-off freight forwarders and the public. How could you check the tenacity of the Government and people instead of putting heads together to manage the era of Covid-19, now they are trying to invoke certain principles that will undermine citizens’ welfare," he said.
If any shipping company or terminal operator fails to deliver cargo to any freight forwarders, he said freight forwarders would file a court case them including the CRFFN.
He alleged that most of the people who are in the CRFFN governing council do not have license to practice freight forwarding and they are not eligible to be there, adding that some that have license are owing Government in the tunes of millions of Naira and they are still allowed to be the members of CRFFN.
"Some licenses have been locked up by Customs and they are still parading themselves as council members. You can't practice freight forwarding in Nigeria without Customs license.
"Those in the council are not legitimate to be there and collect the POF. I'm not against the setting up the Council, but let there be diligence in setting it up, let there be transparency, accountability and rules of engagement," he said.
He said the collection was not in line with the Ease of Doing Business at the ports, saying that all other countries in the world are trying to cut cost, especially this period of COVID-19 while Government is imposing additional cost on the citizens.
"We are the one bringing the bill of laden, going to Customs to perfect it and log in into the single window. We get the amount to pay, we go to the shipping companies, we release and we go to terminal operators to take up cargo delivery and pay delivery order, you pay transport to move the cargo, as you are coming out, you pay wharf landing fee into Lagos State Government's coffers and after all these, you expect us to go and pay POF. All these fees are impediment to clearance of cargo at the ports," he lamented.