BY INNOCENT OROK
The hope of the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to collect Practitioners Operating Fees (POF) has been dash again as both freight forwarding agents and Customs brokers have vehemently kick against paying such fees.
Despite the sensitisation workshop organized by the Council to persuade practitioners to pay the fees to CRFFN its end up in a shout out of “We no go Pay,” a situation that posted a disgraceful outing for the Abubakar Tsani chaired Council.
Recalled late last year when the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) celebrated the freight forwarders day, the founder of NAGAFF, Dr Boniface Aniebonam in an interview with reporters had described , the Chairman of the Board of the CRFFN as an ‘Idiot’ for not attending the freight forwarders day of which he was duly invited.
Many stakeholders have also described the Chairman of the Council board , Ahaji Abubakar Tsani of not listening to stakeholders plights, but rather protecting the government interest.
Customs brokers and fright forwarders have promised to frustrate his regime and never to pay a dime as POF.
Recalled that the CRFFN has announced the commencement of the payment of N1,000 for a 20 feet container, N2,000 for a 40 feet container, N350,000 per tonne on General cargo. while it will cost one Naira per tonne on bulk cargo to be paid to the Council.
But some aggrieved freight forwarders and Customs Brokers were miffed about the condition placed on the payment of the fee that no cargo would be allowed to exit the port without payment of the fee.
They lampooned the Council for hepling unnecessary burden on the end users of the cargoes cleared from the ports saying they already had a handful of levies and duties to pay and that if the POF is added, it would escalate the cost of clearing goods at the ports.
Some of the people that spoke with our correspondent said the development will lead to further increase in cost of goods in the market.
Mr. Femi Abiodun Olabanji who was embittered with the introduction of the fee said; “The problem we are passing through in the ports is too much, Do you want to kill us?
If the CRFFN was established to regulate the freight forwarding practice, it is not to come and collect money.
“This system will lead to more demurrage in the port when they say we must pay before our cargo can exit the port.
“We pay importation duty to Custons that is the VAT, 7 percent, 1 percent CISS, shipping company charges on container charges and rent on the container, you will pay all these charges with VAT.
“You will pay terminal charges with VAT, if you imported goods relating to NAFDAC, you will pay them with VAT, if you bring in goods relating to SON, you will pay with VAT, so also Plant Quarantine Service, you will pay their money with VAT.
“Whether you pay normal duty or mot, you will pay for dropping of container, customs examination and releasing fees. All these are borne by the importer.
Mr.Iwunor John of NAFFAC Airport chapter said, “Do you know how many taxes we pay in airpirt; FAAN collects several charges from us and they will still collect money for Identity Cards up to the tune of N15 thousand.
“There are other groups that collect money and we are not collecting salary from anybody, why will you not have mercy on us?
“Since government is more powerful than any individual, I want to beg you please the amount with which we register for both company and individual should be reduced.
According to Mr. Yomi Adebola “Everybody is talking about payment of pod bit my question is if craven was created to protect pur interest, I see the payment of pod as adding to our burden.
“Other professional bodies like ICAN pay professional dues annually, why not limit our own too to annual payment instead of asking us to pay per shipment.
“We pay customs duty and other charges; this one you want us to pay, who do we refer it to?
Speaking, the Registrar of the Council, Barrister Samuel Nwakohu maintained that mechanism has been put in place to tackle the divergent opinions of the freight forwarders.
“I do not share your your view that majority of them are not at home with the POF, it is only a group sitting there, every other person is in agreement with the POF collection.
He added that it was necessary for government to attach such condition in order to be able to collect the fees which he said was to fund “their regulator.”