…To Set Up Monitoring Committees
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Rising from a One-Day Maiden Edition Of Nigeria Freight Forwarding Summit held yesterday at the Rockview Hotel, Festac Town Lagos, freight forwarders said the industry is bugged down by series of challenges, some of which includes capacity development, operational, administrative and policies.
The summit organised by the Concerned Nigeria Registered Freight Forwarders(CNRFF) In Collaboration With Council For The Regulation Of Freight Forwarding In Nigeria(CRFFN)’s Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum (FFCF), also lamented what it described as foreigners unrestrained incursion into the industry, accusing the federal government and its officials of encouraging the said foreign infiltration.
While the Chairman of the Occasion, Chief Ernest Elochukwu in his welcome address said the industry is underperforming and that practitioners are unhappy and feeling shortchanged, he said the task of the summit is to identify and present the problem to the authorities for considerations.
His words: “We cannot continue the way we are going, so many things are wrong that we need to change, we are at the receiving end where it comes to the regime of container deposits and demurrages. Operators shouldn’t make freight forwarders pay for their equipments that broke down, some of the operational penalties are insensitive and matters of official rascality.
“Sometimes in March this year during a WhatsApp group discussion, someone with an air of skepticism asked rather rhetorically if it will ever be possible that freight forwarders can come together on their own initiative to discuss the challenges they are facing and proffer solutions.
“What we are seeing today is an affirmation which resonates with the famous catch phrase of Mr. Barak Obama; when he was pursuing the US presidency when he said “Yes we can!”
“I therefore use this opportunity to salute the vision, the sagacity, courage and cerebral acumen of those knights in shinny amour who took up the gauntlet, walked and talk and produced the summit we are holding today.
“I also thank the leaders of the numerous associations both present and past whose buy-in to this programme helped in ensuring salutary participation.”
While also thanking the CRFFN through the Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum (FFCF) for it’s collaboration for the expanded scope of the engagement, Elochukwu further said:
“As the Chairman of this Occasion, l make haste to set the tone of discussion for this summit. We are not here to accuse, criticize or attack any person or organization. We are here to scrutinize topical issues militating against the practice and development of freight forwarding in Nigeria.
“A key area of interest for this summit may be finding the role and traction of the registered freight forwarders in the quest to solve myriads of problems being encountered in his practice hence no punch shall be spared in analyzing critical issues of qualifications, standard, conducts and sanctions etc.”
Also speaking, the Convener of the Summit, Dr. Basil Nwolisa in his remarks noted that our freight forwarding industry is struggling in view of narrow considerations and corruption, he said the summit was conveyed to identify the problems and seek to address them even as he called on the leadership of the sector to become more patriotic, more discerning and purposeful in its undertakings in order to grow the sub sector.
He lamented that the nation’s systemic corruption is killing the economy despite our bountiful human and material resources.
Nwolisa said, “Due to corruption about 2000 Nigerians with a couple of international collaborators have stolen more than $800 trillion from 1979 till date. These are monies meant for development.
“Looking back and putting a flashlight through the freight forwarding businesses in comparison with is obtainable world over you will see a sector struggling in the murky waters of corruption, greed and selfish interests of our leaders.
“The leaders instead of advocating for their members have conspired with some agents government to punish those people whom they ought to protect by approving obnoxious procedures in exchange for a pot of porridge. Having said this, yet another opportunity to right the wrongs of the past by coming together in unity to address our common problems by benching selfish interests and corruption for the good of all.
“Shipping Companies, terminal operators and Customs must come to terms with international practices and ease of doing business mantra. Foray into the economies of other nations, it is a known fact that the freight forwarders are treated well, but here due to failure of leadership, we have been relegated to the background”, adding:
“I plead with our leaders to tow the path of peace and love to address these issues.”
Member Governing Council, Chief Uche Increase representing the Chairman FFCF, Chief Henry Njoku noted that whereas Council appreciates the essential recommendations of the summit and the idea of setting up of a monitoring committee to ensure that operators don’t act outside the rules of engagement, he however clarified that only the FFCF has the power of monitoring.
He said, “The FFCF has looked at the issues about violations and monitoring that has also been raised here, there will be no need to create additional monitoring committee because it is already in the works, all the points here are appreciated and noted, Council will implement.
He continued, “Some of the things l have explained here are recommendations that have been ratified, like item 31 and 32. The Council as matter of necessity should immediately create an interactive portal where complaints could easily be lodged by the Freight Forwarders.
“It was agreed that all further comments/contributions should be forwarded to the Council for input into the already prepared document containing observations about violation of trade rules; import/export procedures; and non-compliance with regulations by the government agencies, service.”
Part of the12-point communique recommended and noted the following:
“Improved relationships between governmental and non governmental organizations in the ports and freight forwarders henceforth.
“That the problems bedeviling the freight forwarding subsector in Nigeria has been increasing rather than decreasing and that solutions should be sought for henceforth.
“That the implementations of the 32-point solutions identified by Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum(FFCF) in its meeting in August 2022 and ratified by Council For The Regulation of Freight Forwarding In Nigeria (CRFFN) in its meeting in September 2022 should be fast tracked.
“That there will be a Monitoring Committee for the implementations of solutions of identified problems in the subsector.
“Summit recommended that henceforth, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding In Nigeria(CRFFN) should effectively fulfill its mandate of training and retraining of practitioners and to always attend to the welfare of Registered Freight Forwarders.
“That all stakeholders should close ranks and present a united front always, also recommended that henceforth, CRFFN Governing Council and management should be administered strictly according to the provisions of the establishment act.”
Other resolutions are:
“Recommendation that the CRFFN establishment act should be amended to reflect the required focus and independence.
“That all freight forwarding associations should be merged into one body for effectiveness”, and
“That Nigeria Freight Forwarding Summit will be an annual event under same structure.”