The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria CRFFN has said that it would commence the collection of Practitioners’ Operating Fee POF from February 3, 2020, barring any minute change in the scheme of things. This is coming after about seven years when the payment was approved but had been stalled by litigations and disagreement among the operators.

The new payment regime ranges from N100 per ton on wet cargo to N1, 000 and N2, 000 on 20ft and 40ft containers respectively. Importers of vehicles will also pay N1, 000 on each car they import and N2,000 on trucks, buses and other big vehicles.

Chairman of the Governing Board of the Council, Abubakar Tsanni, who spoke in an interview at the sidelines of the annual awards ceremony of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, held in Lagos at the weekend, also allayed fears that the collection of the new fee would either increase the cost of doing business at the ports or cause delays in cargo delivery processes.

He disclosed that the council has harmonised all its online platforms with those of the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA and the Nigeria Customs Service to enhance a hitch-free takeoff of the new scheme, insisting that it was for the good of the freight forwarding segment of the industry.

It was also gathered that in addition to the existing collection platforms in all the port locations in Nigeria including Lagos, there would also be a collection centre in Abuja, the nation’s capital city for ease of collection and remittance.

The chairman also disclosed that more than 75 per cent of the freight forwarding practitioners in the country are not trained a development that informed the urgent need for the collection of the fee, which would be deployed for the training of the operators in line with international best practice.

He also disclosed that for over seven years, Nigeria has been out of the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association FIATA, adding that with the coming on stream of the new board of the CRFFN, the country would be readmitted into the global body, which would now certify all the training programmes to be embarked upon by the council.

  “There are so many training programmes to be carried out and like I told you earlier, over 75 per cent of freight forwarders in Nigeria are not trained and that is not good for a country that is trying to upgrade to international best practice.

“Collection of POF will not cause any delay, we are perfecting our online platform connections with the NPA and Customs and so the fears about possible delays are unfounded because the POF is like any other levy or fees paid in the course of clearing consignments at the ports because it will not be paid differently.

It is only N1, 000 for 20-foot container and N2, 000 for 40-foot container and so it is so insignificant and cannot increase the cost of operation. But in the long run, the freight forwarders would also be the greatest beneficiaries of the fund because it is going to be deployed towards training them and so the gains would definitely outweigh the amount paid”, he said.

On those operators still complaining about the payment, he noted that it was normal for people to complain about new innovations but assured that whey begin to reap the benefits, all such complaints would stop, arguing that the only constant thing in life is change, which normally would not be embraced by all at the same time.