The Shippers’ Association Lagos State (SALS) has said that the proposed registration fee by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council is more significant and important than the Practitioners Operations Fee (POF) to be collected by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
President of SALS, Rev Jonathan Nicol told Shipping Position Daily in a chat on Monday that the Nigerian Shippers Council is the only economic regulator in the sector and as such has the right to even stop CRFFN from going ahead with the collection of POF.
Nicol was speaking against the backdrop of a statement issued by the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) that its members will not pay the registration fee demanded by the Shippers’ Council.
ANLCA’s National Vice President, Kayode Farinto had argued that the CRFFN Act empowers only CRFFN to regulate and collect registration fees from freight forwarders in the industry, the group insisted that the Shippers’ Council should rely on statutory allocations from the Federal Government.
Our correspondent recalls that the Shippers Council had recently slashed the proposed registration fee which meant that shipping line agencies and terminal operators would now be paying N50,000 per annum down from the initial N100,000 ; while inland container depot/dry port operators will now be paying N25,000 instead of N50,000.
Others are off dock terminal operators, cargo consolidators and shipping agency (non-vessel operating agency) will pay N10,000 down from N20,000 while freight forwarders and clearing agents, haulage firms, stevedoring companies, cargo surveyors and shippers will now pay N5,000 instead of the N10,000 initially imposed by the NSC at the beginning of this year.
However, speaking with Shipping Position Daily, Nicol argued that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council is the most potent regulator in the port system, and urged the clearing agents to come to the roundtable with the Shippers Council to resolve the matter.
He said: "Let them come to the roundtable and discuss with the council, especially at this time that we are looking for a change in the sector, this is part of the change we all worked for, this is the new port order that is coming up, whether we like it or not, it is coming up"
"So, instead of us fighting ourselves, why can't we come together and discuss, they can go to the Shippers Council and discuss it".
Speaking on the importance of the registration fee as against the POF, he said "The fact is that they (Shippers Council) are the economic regulator, they have the right to tell CRFFN not to charge anything, because what is POF? It is your practicing fee, it is the same thing doctors do, nurses and engineers do, so why would CRFFN own be different?"
"The Shippers Council is a government economic regulator and they are saying that before anybody does business, they need to come and register with the Council"
"You cannot compare the amount to what Customs is collecting as renewal fee, Customs is charging N210,000, whether you do business or not, it doesn't concern them"
"The charge on freight forwarders is per company and not individual, so it is reasonable, so if you have 200 staff, the N10,000 covers all of them"
"You should know that anything that would bring burden on the freight forwarders, I will fight it"
"We are waiting to see how CRFFN wants to introduce their POF", he challenged.