Even as majority of its members have vowed never to comply with the payment, the leadership of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has said that it is still deliberating on its position on the planned implementation of Practitioners Operations Fees (POF) collection by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN)
Registrar of CRFFN, Barr Samuel Nwakohu at a sensitization meeting with freight forwarders in Lagos on Tuesday announced that the Council has gotten the last approval from the Ministry of Finance to go ahead with collection of POF all over Nigerian ports, airports and borders.
When contacted, National Secretary of ANLCA, Alhaji Babatunde Mukaila told DAILY TREND NEWS that the association is still trying to make meaning of the declaration by CRFFN and to determine the advantage it would have on ANLCA members.
Recall that ANLCA is the largest freight forwarding association in Nigeria today, and its court case instituted against the CRFFN had stalled collection of the controversial POF for several years.
Sequel to the election that brought in the present governing board members of CRFFN, President of ANLCA, Mr Tony Iju Nwabunike who was pioneer Chairman of CRFFN had withdrew the court case against CRFFN in order to pave way for the association to run for election into the Council.
The election produced six members of ANLCA into the governing board of CRFFN.
However, since the election, members of the association have alleged that the president and his National Executive Committee (NECOM) acted in error.
Speaking with our correspondent via telephone, the ANLCA National Secretary, Alhaji Mukaila said the NECOM would be deliberating on the latest decision by the CRFFN.
“We are trying to make meaning of what CRFFN is saying, in as much as they have said that POF is now a law, we are looking into the processes to get the real terms of reference, that is if there is anything as such”
“We want to get more briefed about what is the process and the added advantage that it would bring to the system. So, NECOM is going to be talking and deliberating on it”
“The meeting on Tuesday was the first sensitization, but we still need to look deeply into what they are saying”
“We are hearing that a particular percentage is going back to the agents, but we want to see it written in black and white clearly”
“The court case against CRFFN has been withdrawn before the election, it was a precondition for our participation in the election that to returned six of our members” he said
Already, members of ANLCA have been kicking agaibst the plans by CRFFN.
At the PTML Chapter, its Public Relations Officer, Comrade Suleiman Ayokunle, expressed disappointment at CRFFN, saying that the Council has not done enough to address operational challenges faced by agents at the port but is more interested in the collection of POF.
“We have series of problems at the ports, which should be a priority for whoever that thinks well for the country. POF as good as it is being projected, can then come after the infrastructures have been put in place because every delay in cargo operation has multiplier effect.
The shipping company release that POF is directly attached to simple means that if POF is not paid, you cannot get your cargo release from shipping companies, and by implication, if there is a five minute delay, it can create a one week congestion. So we believe that the machinery to make things work should be put in place before issue of POF,” he said.
At the Tin Can Island Chapter, the former spokesman of the chapter, Mr Emmanuel Onyeme, said CRFFN has not made any positive impact to regulate the freight forwarding practice. He added that the POF collection would only amount to additional cost of cargo clearance for importers, which in turn, would be passed on the consumers.
“Ever since the council members were inaugurated, we have not seen any value they have added to members. We don’t see them in the port. How can they come up with the issue of money? We expected them to work because we are having challenges at the port. At the moment, cost of clearing is high and they are coming up with POF. With the amount of money they want to collect per container that means cost of clearing will increase and the importer is the one that will pay but at the end of the day, whatever they spend will be passed to the final consumer,” he said.
Also speaking from the Lagos Airport chapter, a prominent executive member, Mr. Emmanuel Njoku expressed concern over the delay experienced in assessing the portal created by CRFFN to make the POF payment, saying that agents are finding it difficult to register on the platform. This, he said, would lead to delay in cargo clearance at the port.