Mr. Sam Nwakohu, the registrar of the CRFFN at the meeting.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The Counsel for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) organised a meeting of the critical stakeholders at the Rockview Hotel, Apapa on the 29th of October, 2021. The meeting centred on the threat by NAGAFF through the office of the coordinator of the 100% compliance team to withdraw their services hence the CRFFN’s constitution of the meeting where the 11 points demands/disagreements were thrashed out.
Mr. Ibrahim Tanko, the coordinator of the NAGAFF 100% Compliance team at the meeting.
The 11 points requests/demands which were made by the 100% compliance team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) include:
1. Depletion of container deposit refunds.
2. Undue debits on equipments detention.
3. Bringing freight forwarders into dispute with transporters/clients.
4. Unnecessary extortion of money from transporters.(N150,000 per drop) at holding bays.
5. Network issue, difficulty raising invoices transmitting TDO’s losing not less than N10m per day.
6. Transfer of containers without consent and charging us for it.
7. Illegal transfer charges against the directive of the Nigerian shippers council.
8. Outrageous equipment detention charges.
9. Use of trucks as holding bays without payment.
10. No investment in the Nigerian economy all shipping lines must be quit.
11. No work after November 10th if the above are not met, freight forwarders are tired of useless dialogues.
A cross section of participants at the meeting.
The Shipping companies and terminal operators were not on hand to react to all the allegations and demands but the meeting went on after opinions of participants were sought on the way forward. A lot of the freight forwarders/licensed customs agents suggested a postponement of this meeting, but the register of the CRFFN overruled that the meeting must go on as he asked what happens if the meeting is postponed so that the Shipping companies can attend the next meeting and they still fail to appear at any meeting. At the end of the meeting, the points were critically examined and the CRFFN promised to deal with the issues as the NPA were also charged to enforce the laws of the land.
The registrar concluded that the shipping companies would be made to attend a meeting that would again be scheduled as this can be considered a preliminary meeting. He indicated that another meeting that will compose of all stakeholders would be organised.
At the end of the deliberations some recommendations were reached; and thus:
1. The conveners of this meeting should put in more effort to ensure that the Shipping companies attend the next meeting.
2. The complainants (freight forwarders) should suspend their threat of withdrawal of service pending when consultations with the Shipping companies had been concluded.
3. It was also agreed that the conveners should synergise with the NPA, NCS and NSC to strengthen the existing laws that would help to alleviate the hardships that freight forwarders face.
4. That the freight forwarders should and must exercise patience with the introduction of technology and the short term problems that this poses as things will get better over time.
5. It was agreed that charges should not be passed to the freight forwarders as a result of network or service down time.
6. That NPA should look into all relevant isdues and should make sure that freight forwarders are not unduly punished for inadequate holding bays and the transfer of containers from one terminal to the other.
6. That the issue of excessive charges while dropping containers should be looked into.
7. That the allegations of extortion should be investigated.
8. That those who engage in extortion at the holding bays where containers are deposited should be punished accordingly.
At the end of the deliberation, the CRFFN registrar spoke to journalists and said that the very nature of the economic activities that take part at the Ports made the President of the nation to say that in spite of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ports were not to be closed and so when the freight forwarders made the threat of the withdrawal of service from the Ports, the Council had to organise this forum so that different operators will have a platform for dialogue and thus avert strike action at the Ports.
A group photograph of participants at the meeting.
Mr. Ibrahim Tanko the Coordinator of the NAGAFF 100% compliance team said at the meeting that he was not happy with the outcome of the meeting as he said that the Shipping companies delibaretely defied the CRFFN chiefly because of the issue of power tussle between the CRFFN and the Nigerian Shipper’s Council, the regulators of the Shipping companies. He buttressed his point with the fact they wrote to complain, copying all the relevant government agencies, but in the end, the two regulators organised two different meetings at the same time thereby making a mockery of the whole thing. He stated again that the feelers from the NSC organised meeting is that their complaints will be looked into in a matter of days while the CRFFN has not given any timeline for the resolution of the misunderstanding. He lamented that their pains are not being alleviated with proper laws and prompt regulations. Mr. Tanko said that they are suspending their threat of service withdrawal, but that they are giving a two-week ultimatum for the issues raised to be resolved or they will go on ahead to carry out the threat of service withdrawal.
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