…As Shipping Companies Dare Amaechi, Shun Peace Meeting with Freight Forwarders
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Freight forwarders in Nigeria have expressed concerns over what they described as the inter-agency power tussle between two regulatory bodies; Nigerian Shippers Council as economic regulator and the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN)
According to them, this has further emboldened shipping companies and terminals in lawlessness and flagrant abuse of federal government’s authorities.
The shipping companies in Nigeria were invited on Friday for a peace meeting with Nigerian freight forwarders who have been threatening to go on strike over allegations of extortion, arbitrariness.
The meeting was conveyed at the Rockview Hotel, Apapa by the CRFFN on the instructions of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. However, the shipping companies failed to attend without sending any representation.
Supprisingly, the Nigerian Shippers Council had called a parallel meeting involving the same stakeholders, giving attestation to the lack of cordination and synergy among the parastatals under the transport Minister.
DAILY TREND NEWS correspondent notes that Rockview Hotel is located besides Shippers Council headquarters in Apapa.
Some of the freight forwarding associations representatives, apparently annoyed by the absence of the shipping companies; Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) NAFFAC, AREFFN also stormed out of the meeting.
Speaking with journalists at the end of the closed door meeting, Cordinator of the 100 Compliance Committee, an enforcement arm of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko said there is an existing power tussle between Shippers Council and CRFFN.
“I am not happy with today’s meeting because nobody is ready to answer our pains, you can imagine the Registrar of CRFFN inviting the Shipping Companies and none of them showed up.
“We also notice that there is power tussle between CRFFN and the Shippers Council, if there is no power tussle, while would the Shippers Council invite us for meeting on Friday, and CRFFN invited us for meeting on same day?
“I sent some of our members to represent us at the meeting with Shippers Council and the response there is the same thing we are getting here that we should suspend our action. The Shippers Council said they would investigate our allegations and get back to us on Monday. Here, the CRFFN said they would look into it, without any date
“We accepted to step down our strike action based on respect for our regulators, pending when we would hear from them”
Alhaji Tanko said that the freight forwarders is giving two weeks grace to the regulators, starting from Monday in order to resolve the challenges or else the freight forwarders would embark on total withdrawal of service.
Earlier, Registrar of CRFFN, Barr Samuel Nwakohu who read out the communicae of the meeting, urged the freight forwarders to suspend their withdrawal of services, pending further investigation.
Speaking with journalists, he said “The freight forwarders wrote to the Minister of Transportation through my office and copied me, they made certain complaints and threatened to withdraw their services”
“You know that economic activities at our ports are important to revenue generation for the country, outside the oil, port activities are essential services, so the country cannot afford any disruption in its economic activities”
“Against this backdrop, we invited all the stakeholders, the NPA, Shippers Council, CRFFN, the complainants, and the shipping companies for us to address the issues”
“Unfortunately, the shipping companies are not here today, but I didn’t want that to stop any preliminary discussions, this was why we considered issues raised from the freight forwarders point of view. We would still have the opportunity to consider the issues from the point of view of the shipping companies”
The CRFFN Registrar assured that there would be subsequent engagements on the matter. He however said it is not his perogative to ensure the shipping companies attend the next meeting.
“The Shippers Council or the NPA are in charge of the shipping companies and should be responsible for them showing up for the next meeting” he said