By DAPO OLAWUNI
The National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) has set up a Trade Facilitation Committee to protect the interest of its members who are owners of Customs licenses and clearing cargoes from Nigerian ports.
While inaugurating 20-member committee in Lagos yesterday, Chairman Board of Trustees of the Council, Alhaji Rauf Ladipo revealed that the association is discussion with sister associations like National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) as well as Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and that all their compliance teams would eventually be fused together and they would be deployed to work together at the port.
He lamented that freight forwarders are tired of labouring at the port without any result to show for it. According to him, the NCMDLCA Trade Facilitation Committee is to ensure that no member of the association is harassed after complying with all clearing procedure and paying appropriate customs duties.
“Today there is no more standard in the practice, as we come up with this committee today, we have to ensure that these customs officers, police officers and our members at the port all comply with the norms and do the right thing, before anybody would want to extort money from you, you would know your right, and if things are done properly, we would all be happy for it, it would simply the job for everybody and make Nigerian economy stronger”
“We have five associations recognised by CRFFN and the Shippers Council and ours is one of them.
This is why we have told ANLCA, NAGAFF to bring their compliance teams and we would mix them together, they would go to the port and do the job, those who must go to equity must come with clean hands, so all of us must be up and doing.”
“We are inaugurating a committee of twenty members, but today, only seven are going to be inaugurated, the other thirteen would be inaugurated later because it has to cut across all chapters”.
While admonishing his committee members, Ladipo said “The position cannot be permanent, when we notice that you are not doing the right thing, we would call you back, like they call people back from the National Assembly, we would tell you that you cannot serve us again because you are not representing our interests at the port”
He reiterated that after paying the appropriate duty, freight forwarders must not be harassed by customs or any other agency, saying that these acts of extortion would no longer be tolerated.
The trade facilitation committee is headed by Ifeanyin Anakweze.
While reiterating the need for the five associations approved by Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to work together, Rauf Ladipo said :
“What we are doing today is not different from what NAGAFF or ANLCA are doing, I have met with all of them, what all of us are after is to make sure that things are done properly, freight forwarders must pay appropriate duties, after doing this nobody can intimidate you”
“We are bringing all our teams together and then we would distribute them to the various ports to the same thing, not that they would be doing what each association likes”
“CRFFN cannot tell us that we are illegal, we have been doing the job gor several years, CRFFN is our own, it was set up not long ago, I have been in clearing business for 51 years”