After its Removal from Annual Budget, CRFFN Embarks on Membership Drive, Seeks Freight Forwarders Collaboration on POF Payments

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Acting Registrar of CRFFN, Mrs Chinyere Uromta (3rd from right) in a group photograph with NAGAFF National Executives and management staff of CRFFN after a courtesy visit to NAGAFF headquarters on Monday

By DAPO OLAWUNI

Following the removal of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) from the Federal Government’s annual budgetary allocation, the Council has said that it is embarking on an aggressive membership drive, even as it has called on all freight forwarders to collaborate with the council in the collection of its statutory levy; Practitioners Operating Fee (POF) at all ports across the nation.

Acting Registrar of CRFFN, Mrs Chinyere Uromta made the appeal when she led management of the Council to the headquarters of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) in Apapa on Monday.

The CRFFN management team was received by the NAGAFF Deputy National President Seaports; Afam Chukwuma and Deputy National President Headquarters; Simeon Nwonu.

Speaking, Mrs Uromta said the CRFFN is in need of funds to sustain itself in terms of staff salaries and to also provide training and retraining of freight forwarders as part of its mandate.

CRFFN Acting Registrar, Mrs Chinyere Uromta (2nd left) addressing the NAGAFF executives

She lamented that sustaining the council is proving difficult in the face of the 50% deductions by the Federal Government from all revenue collected by the CRFFN into the Consolidated Account.

“I will like to seize this opportunity to implore the leadership of NAGAFF to further assist in registration of more members with the Council and further collaborate with us on POF payment as the proceed from the
later will serve as a return on investment and will be well utilized for the purpose of continuous trainings for freight forwarders.

“Together, let us elevate the standards of freight forwarding in Nigeria, thereby contributing to a robust and seamlessly connected global supply chain network.

“We are now to fend for the salaries of our staff, we are not relenting or discouraged, we know that with the corporation of our stakeholders and we doing our functions, we are better off

“The monies generated would be ploughed back into training of Freight Forwarders as this is our core mandate.
We wrote so many memos to government on why we should not be removed from the National Budget, we need to be up to date with FIATA, we are the only body representing Freight Forwarders on FIATA, and if we don’t meet up with the dues, they would delist us” Uromta stated

According to her, the CRFFN representing Nigeria on FIATA had been delisted previously and after the federal government made funds available, the council was restored back.

Speaking further, she said “But with this self funding, without giving us anything, honestly that is one of the reasons we are here, and we are pleading on behalf of the management that we are ready to work with you, we are ready to collaborate, we are ready to do our job in terms of what the Act has spoken about our training and empowering our stakeholders”
“We are calling on all stakeholders because this is the reality that we need to face now”

She listed major sources of revenue collection for the Council to include land borders, airports and seaports.

On payment of the declarant fees from POF Collection, the CRFFN Acting Registrar assured that the leadership of the council is aware of the huge outstanding remittance of the fee back to the declarants.

She said “The reasons were partly due to wrong account numbers submitted initially and some other challenges beyond our immediate control. We would like to assure you that efforts are in place to commence payment of all outstanding and ensure, going forward, payment of this ‘gazetted’ fee, as and when due. Kindly bear with us”

Uromta assured that the Council will continue to facilitate and promote capacity-building training and other responsibilities to enhance the different aspects of the freight forwarding sector.

Responding, the Deputy National President of NAGAFF Seaports, Mr Afam Chukwuma assured CRFFN of full corporation from NAGAFF in order to meet its target and achieve its mandate.

According to him, the CRFFN has not been firm enough in the collection of the POF payment at the port, adding that the enforcement arm of the council is nowhere to be found.

“There are so many people practicing without paying CRFFN, there are cargoes leaving the port without paying POF. You need to embark on strong consultation and engagement with other government agencies to get included in the Nigerian trade hub and single window.

“There are money flowing around in the port but you need to plug yourself into the system”

Mr Chukwuma thereafter proposed a NAGAFF-CRFFN special committee to continue to interface on challenges and how to bring back the Council onto the right track.
According to him, CRFFN is a baby of NAGAFF, and the association would do all in its powers to ensure the council survives.

Also speaking, NAGAFF Deputy National President Headquarters, Mr Simeon Nwonu said the CRFFN has been very distant from the stakeholders, especially NAGAFF which developed the vision for enactment of the council.

According to him, Government removing CRFFN from annual budget allocations is a wake up call that would spur the council into action.

Mr Nwonu urged the CRFFN Registrar to be relentless, adding that “The maritime sector is like a mafia industry and it is a warfare, most of the government agencies would not want you to come in, so you have to fight.

“I thank God that government has removed you from the budget. It is now that you will make more more money only if you liase with NAGAFF” he said

Members of NAGAFF present at the meeting also took turns to express their grievances about the conduct of the CRFFN, especially the non issuance of identity cards to freight forwarders, high cost of training programmes and backlogs of payment of Declarant fees.

To all of the challenges, the CRFFN Acting Registrar promised to look into them and address all.

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