Stakeholders query NAGAFF’s quasi-regulatory posturing
Condemns purported technical committee to evaluate operators’ performance
By Eguono Odjegba
Industry observers have expressed concerns over recent efforts by the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, to transmute from being a trade group into a quasi federal regulatory body in the maritime industry, noting that unless the federal government takes urgent step to checkmate obvious rascality and illegal activities like this, it may pose danger to law and order.
NAGAFF had last week constituted what it called a Technical Committee to evaluate the performance of port concessions, and have made statements that purport to question the activities of port operators like terminal concessionaires, who are responsible to constituted authorities.
Those who commented on the development described NAGAFF’s posturing as not only preposterous, haughty, and vain glorification, but that the union’s strange attitude is potentially dangerous and illegal.
Two groups, the Council of Managing Directors of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, CMDNLCA, and the All Ports Unified Freight Forwarding Practitioners Association, APUFFPA, accused NAGAFF of attempt to outreach itself as well as attempt to cover up its flaws while seeking to point fingers at others.
NAGAFF had during the inauguration of the said technical committee, gave the committee 60 days to come up with its report for onward submission to the supervisory Ministry of Transportation. National President of NAGAFF , Chief Increase Uche said the committee would embark on re-evaluation and assessment of port concessionaire APM Terminals Apapa and proceed to other terminal operators in Lagos ports.
He said, “NAGAFF high Command in her wisdom has decided to carry out a holistic re-evaluation/a comprehensive assessment of the performance of APMT among others.
“As the link that brings all the players together in the general supply chain, the freight forwarders have been dutifully carrying out their role as required particularly, in ensuring a seamless flow of ports operations, covering all the terminals including the APMT.
“From our informed knowledge the APMT has remained one of the terminals that has not achieved the purpose for which the government carried out the reform in the maritime industry. It is based on this fact and for numerous other reasons that this assignment is hereby bestowed on these selected members with the onerous task.”
Also speaking at the inauguration, founder NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam tasked the committee to diligent in their fact finding mission. Commenting, APUFFPA President, Prince Mike Okorie described the action of NAGAFF as laughable and curious.
“When I read the report online, I pitched myself, because it sounds funny and worrisome. Has the system and our government fallen to the level where individuals now arrogate government tasks to themselves? NAGAFF mentioned Ministry of Transport, and am wondering if the ministry has divested its agencies of their regulatory assignments and handed them over to individuals.
“Some of their self assigned task carries presidential committee tag, I don’t really know what is happening in the industry anymore, whether government have taken the backseat from its regulatory function. Sometime I wonder whether its all an attempt to hijack the function of Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding of Nigeria, CRFFN, because NAGAFF have about six seats in CRFFN.
“I saw them wearing apron in the port, and as far as I know, even the people wearing it are not people of integrity. It is preposterous for anybody to just wake up and say you want to set up a presidential anti-corruption body, who gave you the powers? NAGAFF’s committee is unacceptable and illegal.
“The issue is not corruption but attitude of customs: customs-agents relationship; Customs-Importers-agents relationship; and vice versa. Customs need to improve on that and the suspicion of collusion with these people to engage in corrupt practices can then be taken care of. NAGAFF don’t have any power to set up compliance committee, it can only monitor the conduct of its members.
“As freight forwarders NAGAFF’s concern should be to raise awareness about un-motorable port access roads. Since their primary job is freight, they should also focus on the road worthiness of trucks picking containers at the port, and maybe partner with VIO to ensure road worthiness compliance. The rate at which containers are falling down, damaging goods worth millions of naira on the road is alarming.
“Apart from those, there is high cost of transportation of freight; these are the areas NAGAFF should concern itself with. For it to fly anti-corruption banner, it is like a cell in corruption saying it wants to checkmate what the customs or other agencies of government is doing.”