By Godwin Oritse
FOLLOWING complaints received from operators during the tour of major ports in the country by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN, Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, has directed that the illegal collection of practicing fees by the Joint Task Force of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) be stopped.
The dues are allegedly being collected at SAHCOL, NAHCO, Federal Ocean Terminal (FOT) and the West African Container Terminal (WACT) in Onne, Port Harcourt.
The CRFFN has described the collection as illegal, even though the two leading associations have been collecting the levy for several years, albeit controversially.
According to the Council, the illegal collection of the monies has further added to the high cost of doing business at Nigerian ports.
In a letter signed by the Confidential Secretary of CRFFN; George Olufunmilayo, dated 6th of September, addressed to the management of all the terminals, a copy of which was sighted by Vanguard , CRFFN noted that the directive was issued by the Minister of Transport.
“In line with the concern expressed by the honourable minister, we solicit your cooperation to stop the illegal collection of monies that contributes to the high cost of doing business in our ports” the letter stated.
Also speaking to our correspondent in Lagos , National President of the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN) Dr. Frank Ukoh, confirmed the development.
Ukoh said that ANLCA and NAGAFF have been collecting the practicing fees for years without any accountability whatsoever. He said that the two associations had deliberately sidelined other associations from the sharing formula of the dues, even though it is being paid by all agents, including AREFFN members.
According to him, all efforts by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to resolve the disparities among the five associations had been thwarted by both ANLCA and NAGAFF.
He alleged that the management of the WACT terminal had incorporated the dues into the fees that must be paid and stamped by ANLCA before cargo can be released from the terminal.
Ukoh advised the CRFFN to look into other ports in Lagos where the practicing fees is still being collected by both associations and put a stop to it.
“It is not enough if you stopped it at the airport and Onne port, what about Tin Can? They are still collecting the money at Tin Can, PTML and all the other terminals”
“I understand that ANLCA has so far collected N80million of this money at SAHCOL and NAHCO. if they bring out part of that money and give it to the CRFFN, the Council will be able to organize election” Ukoh said.