The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has called for urgent review of the Act establishing the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
The Executive Secretary of NSC; Mr Hassan Bello, made the call on Wednesday when the governing board chairman of CRFFN, Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni and other members of the council paid a familiarisation visit to the council at its cooperate head office in Lagos.
He explained that the freight forwarding Act is not a straight act as it didn't reflect the diversity and factionalism in the sector, adding that the new council should be able to address all that.
"We have to have some advocacy, the freight forwarding act is not a straight act in the sense that it didnot reflect the diversity and factionalism of the freight forwarding practice. I was the legal adviser when this Act was drafted and pushed to parliament. But any time I leave Abuja and come back to Lagos, the one-time Deputy Speaker, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, will call me back to say, look ANLCA has put one cloth, NAGAFF has also added another cloth, so that was the reflection of that bill. And what we said was let’s operationalize that bill and see how far it has gone"
Bello said that the act should be reviewed to ensure that it aligns with the economic indices of the country.
He charged the chairman of the CRFFN board to ensure that freight forwarding is central, stressing that the major idea is to grow the economy.
"Since 2007, it is time to review the bill, aligning it to the economic indices, aligning freight forwarding into the economic activities rather than the politics of it. You have to restore that so that freight forwarding is central"
He explained that there have been arguments as to whether it is customs clearing agents or brokerage.
"We have had arguments on whether it is customs clearing agent or brokerage. Freight forwarding also has to depend on the economy, you have to know about the economy; it is one block that is indispensable. The idea is to make the maritime economy part of our growth"
However, the NSC boss urged the council to seek for indemnity for shippers and agents, even as he reiterated the need for the council to make the ports competitive especially in the West African sub region .
"Insurance for example, the CRFFN should seek to indemnify shippers and their agents because a freight forwarder is an agent to a shipper here and abroad. So you should have the logistics throughout the delivery. It is not just to clear goods out of the ports, you should know the supply chain to the door steps or factory of the shipper. We should also make out ports central because we are in competition with ports all over especially West African sub region ", he advised.
Bello also charged the chairman to ensure that the Customs and Excise Management Act(CEMA) and the CRFFN act is streamlined.
He said that it is not possible for everybody to be a freight forwarder adding that the job should be for professionals who can monitor cargos.
He lauded freight forwarders for their contribution in opposing uneconomic decisions by service providers.
"I cannot but make reference to contributions made by freight forwarders especially in opposing uneconomic decisions either by the providers or any other person. We should now have a rebirth in the industry. We should like to have that complain between Customs and CRFFN to streamline the requirements in the act of freight forwarders to operate in Nigeria that is in particular about CEMA and CRFFN Act to be streamlined. It is not everybody that can be a freight forwarder; it is not possible. It has to be a professional who can talk and monitor cargoes. We should not be living in the gallery of politics because it has really destroyed the maritime industry", he noted.