By Godwin Oritse
THE proposed collection of freight forwarders’ practicing feesÂ has been staled following the crisis that is currently rocking the different freight forwarding groups in the Nigerian maritime industry
The collection of the said practicing fee ought to have started had all freight forwarding groups in the industry signed an agreement to that effect.
The three major namely the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and the National Council Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) before now were to have signed the agreement under the Joint Action Committee of Freight Forwarders (JACOFF), but along the line the leadership tussles with ANLCA and NCMDCLA may have put paid to the project.
Vanguard gathered that there have been several meetings as to the modalities on the collection ,and as atÂ the of filling this report freight forwarding groups were yet to reach a compromise as leadership tussle of the various groups.
Speaking to Vanguard on the further delay of the collection of the fee the Executive vice Chairman of the Tin-Can Island port chapter of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents Chief Achike Molokwu said that several meetings held to fine tune the modus operandi of the collection has not yielded any result.
He explained that the proposed collection of freight forwarders’ practicing fee is a child of circumstances, adding that the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria is supposed to come out with a policy statement to stamp its authority on the collection.
He stated that the Council was also to have provided the working tools like receipt, uniforms and police security for those that would effect the collection.
He however blamed the Council for not living up to its responsibilities and getting everybody around to agree and effect the collection.
â€œThe Council ought to have written to the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority to intimate them of the planned collection, provide all the necessary working tools to the collection to commenceâ€. He said.
He disclosed that the money when collected would be shared amongst the three major groups of freight forwarders and other parties like the Nigerian Ports Authority and other stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the National President of the Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents Mr Lucky Amiwero told Vanguard that nobody can collect fee in the port as he and his group are opposed to the collection.
Amiwero , who currently being challenged on his hold onto power in the last thirteen years also said his group would legally challenge any attempt to collect the fee.
In his reaction the founder of the National Association Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Dr Boniface Aniebonam said that the issue of the freight forwarders’ fee is a constitutional thing.
He stated that although, NAGAFF does not recognize JACFF, but that does not stops it from working with other groups for the well being of members of the entire group.
Aniebonam disclosed that members of NAGAFF have commenced payment of the fees at its national secretariat, adding that as soon as other groups resolved their leadership crisis NADAFF will direct its members to make payment at the central body.
He explained that the fee is not a fee, but association levy that every freight forwarder ought to pay on a regular basis.
â€œCollection at the center will ensure total compliance by all groups of freight forwarders, and this money will be shared in ratio among the three major groupsâ€
â€œWhile ANLCA will take the biggest share, followed by NAGAFF and the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents which is the smallest group will take its own shareâ€ he added.
The seasoned freight forwarder however suggested an amendment of the constitution setting ANLCA, adding that it is only when this is done and a succession programme is put in place that the current crisis bedeviling the be resolved.
The leadership crisis recently took a turn for the worse when some members of the Lucky Amiwero led Council mastered minded his arrested, arraignment and further detention at the Kirikiri maximum prison for over a week.
While NAGAFF is enjoying the support and cooperation of members, both ANLCA and the Council are still embroiled is crisis that no one knows when this whole brouhaha will end.
Meanwhile, the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (CRFFN) which is suppose to be the umbrella body for the entire freight forwarding groups has failed to called the warring parties to order despite being empowered by law to regulate and sanction any freight forwarder found wanting in any way.