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FG ENGAGES FREIGHT FORWARDERS/LICENSED CUSTOMS AGENTS OVER THREAT OF WITHDRAWAL OF SERVICE

Victoria Hanson
The Federal Government has entered into discussion with Freight Forwarders
over their threat to withdraw their services from the country’s ports,
land borders and other entry points with a view to resolving all issues
under contention.
The government therein engaged NAGAFF and ANLCA the two leading freight
forwarding Associations in Nigeria on Wednesday the 19th of April 2017 at
the Conference Hall of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council.
It would be recalled that the National Association of Government Approved Freight
Forwarders NAGAFF and the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents
(ANLCA), had earlier issued a 21-day ultimatum to withdraw their services
to the government to address most of the issues militating against smooth
cargo clearance or else they will withdraw their services from the
country’s ports, land borders and entry points.
Issues in contention include, but not limited to, arbitrary and unilateral
increase in charges by terminal operators and shipping companies,
highhandedness, impunity, extortion, blocking and arrest of properly
exited cargoes on the highways and unwarranted detention of freight
forwarders among others, as some of the practices militating against
smooth cargo operations.
Addressing the peace meeting called at the instance of the Federal
Government, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation,
Mr. Sabiru Zakari, who said he has the mandate of the Presidency, appealed
to the Freight Forwarders to shelve their proposed “withdrawal of service”
as the government, in recognition of their important role in the nation’s
strive for greatness, was prepared to address the issues they have raised.
While adopting the paper presented jointly by NAGAFF and ANLCA, Mr. Zakari
pleaded for more time to enable the government address all the issues
raised against the Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigerian Ports Authority,
the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services, Maritime Police, SON,
NAFDAC, Terminal Operators and others which have been fingered by the two
Associations as hindering the free flow of cargo.
Apart from organising an enlarged meeting where the various leaders of
such government agencies will hear how they were constituting stumbling
blocks to free cargo flow, the head of the government delegation assured
the freight forwarding groups that he shall equally and personally submit
the working paper to the Federal Government Committee on “Ease of doing
Business” reform headed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
Earlier, the National President of ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, while
presenting the document jointly produced by NAGAFF and ANLCA, had said the
document has listed all the activities of government agencies and other
stakeholders militating against government interest and well-being of
their members.  He said the two Associations are not only fighting for the
liberation of their members, but the interest of the nation’s economy, at
large.
Addressing the gathering, Founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Okechukwu
Aniebonam  called on the Government to be serious in the process of
organising elections into the Governing Council for the CRFFN, in line
with the spirit and letters of the law setting it up.  He also
acknowledged the efforts of the leadership of the Nigeria Customs Service,
Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the Nigerian Ports Authority in resolving
all matters.  On the part of the Registrar of CRFFN, Sir. Mike Jukwe, he
posited that the Council is at the verge of ensuring categorization of
Freight Associations to ensure smooth administration and cohesion.  In the
new order and dictate of the ongoing reforms, it may no longer be
necessary to allow proliferation of Associations within the concept of
categorization. He stressed the need to ensure that all stakeholders key
into the new mandate enabling ease of doing business in Nigeria.
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council Barr. Hassan
Bello, in his own contribution insisted that there is the urgent need to
remove all barriers against trade in our ports.
After extensive engagement, and discussion with the government
representatives, the Associations agreed to extend the ultimatum by
another 21 days to enable government address all the issues raised in
their grievances.
Those also in attendance include, Director, Maritime Services, the Acting
President of NAGAFF, Chief Increase Uche, and Legal adviser Barr. Fred
Akokhia. Others are the Secretary BOT of ANLCA, Taye Oyeniyi, Secretary
General, Dr. Opara, the National Publicity Secretary Dr. Kayode Farinto,
and the National Presidents of AREFFN, NAFFAC, and the NCMDLCA.
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