By Godwin Oritse
THE Federal Government has warned APM terminals at Apapa and others to adhere to government’s freight forwarders’ directive on the collection of practitioners operating fee, POF.
Speaking during a meeting between officials of the Ministry of Transportation and Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders and terminal operators in Lagos weekend, Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, said since the introduction of the policy on February 24, 2021, some terminal operators have failed to comply with the agreement reached, which has resulted to loss of revenue to the country.
Ajani said the ministry could no longer ignore the actions of the terminal operators, explaining that the job of the ministry was to ensure that government policies were adhered to.
According to her, where there is failure to adhere, it leaves the ministry with no choice but to look at sanctions that can follow such disobedience of policy in the future.
She said the ministry had given terminal operators two months to key into the collection of POF, after which sanctions would be applied for those who failed to abide.
Ajani stated that one of the importance of the POF was that it would enhance the fortunes of freight forwarding in Nigeria.
She pointed out that the POF would promote global competitiveness and build capacity for effective participation in the new Africa Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA.
She said: “It became necessary for us to have this interactive session. CRFFN is saddled with the responsibility of developing a comprehensive freight forwarding policy and promoting freight forwarding as a career as well as providing an enabling environment for freight forwarding business, with a view to creating job opportunities for Nigerians.
“One of the key measures of enhancing the fortunes of freight forwarding in Nigeria is the implementation of the POF that is designed to ensure sustainable funding of the freight forwarding venture in the country.”
“It is relevant to note that the POF will promote global competitiveness and build capacity for effective participation in the new Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA.
“For us to actualise the goals and the objectives of POF, a couple of things were put in place by the council; the council has put in place a robust electronic payment application system for the collection of the POF.
‘’This system is well built and, therefore, enables the freight forwarders to generate invoices for imports and exports, make payment for generated invoices and view comprehensive report of transaction on the council’s portal, so this makes it transparent for anybody who has to pay this.
“The application also serves as a data base for determining the numbers of cargoes coming in and out of the ports. It’s also designed in such a way that invoices can be generated through self-services.
“It is relevant to note that since CRFFN came onboard on February 24, 2021, some terminal operators have failed to comply and that means loss of revenue to Nigeria, and the ministry cannot keep silence concerning this”.
Speaking directly to the defaulting terminal operators, she said: “We would like to know why you have decided not to comply or partially comply, so that we know what the challenges are, but it is pertinent for us to note that the job of the ministry is to ensure that government policies are adhered to and where there is failure of adherence, it leaves us with no choice but to look at the sanctions that could follow such disobedience of policy in the future.
“It’s important for us to know that the POF is a win-win for both the government and the practitioners, with the promise to organise collective actions against numerous threats, including intrusion and dominance of the space by mere absence of locals in the oil and gas services and need to build capacity for effective participation in freight forwarding.
“I will like to plead with all of us to sensitise your members, with a view to ensuring full compliance with the POF regime and also to assure you that Federal Ministry of Transportation, FMOT, will put in place sufficient guidelines to ensure that the funds realised from the POF is devoted to the professionalization and capacity building of the practitioners,” she said.