By Godwin Oritse
Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi last week in Lagos read the riot Act to the various freight forwarding associations to meet with the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) and resolve the differences that they have with the regulatory agency.
He gave the freight forwarding and Customs brokers associations two weeks to resolve their differences, even as he threatened that, if they cannot agree with the CRFFN after the expiration of the ultimatum, he will declare that their companies undergo fresh registration with the CRFFN.
The Minister gave this directive at the opening of a two-day conference on Improved Ports Efficiency in Nigeria, it was organised by the Maritime Correspondents Organisation of Nigeria (MARCON).
Apparently making reference to the deadlock in the collection of the Federal Government-gazetted Practitioners Operating Fees (POF) by the CRFFN, and the inability of the Council to function effectively since the expiration of the tenure of its second governing council members, the Minister said the Ministry would have no choice than to insist that all freight forwarders should register with the CRFFN.
“You must meet with the CRFFN and resolve your differences, we will insist that you register with the CRFFN, it’s the law”, he maintained.
Amaechi told the gathering which had a sizeable number of freight forwarders in attendance that, “let me talk to the customs practitioners, there is a law that you people are breaking and that law has to do with an agency in my ministry”
“I have met with the Comptroller General of Customs and we are starting a fresh registration of all customs agents and the requirement will be to go and register there before you can became a customs agent”
“Myself and the CGC have agreed to meet and all I will tell him is to go and announce to customs agents to go and start fresh registration, because they must comply with the law”, he added.
Speaking further in his keynote address, the minister said that the maritime sector is largely private- sector driven with government providing the appropriate policy and regulatory framework.
Amaechi also reiterated the ministry’s commitment to partner with the National Assembly to ensure that the four maritime sector bills pending before the upper and lower chambers are passed into law and implemented accordingly.
He mentioned the pending bills as: the Nigeria Railways Authority bill (2015), National Transport Commission bill (2015), Nigerian Ports and Harbour Authority bill and the National Inland Waterways Authority bill.