Francis Ezem

There are very strong indications that Practitioners Operating Fee POF being collected by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria CRFFN has ran into serious problems less than one week after its official launch, BUSINESS AND TRANSPORT ONLINE can authoritatively report.

Recall that the POF, which collection took effect officially on February 3, 2020 was launched Monday this week, an event that was boycotted by the leaderships of all the associations which initially gave their nod to the collection of the fee based on some agreed terms and conditions.

Under the new payment regime, practitioners are expected to N1, 000 per ton of wet/bulk cargo, N1, 000 and N2, 000 on 20foot and 40foot 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.

Competent industry sources hinted that the associations are seriously considering directing their members to discontinue with the payment of the fee based on recent discovery that the Governing Board of the council might not honour the agreements reached with them on the collection and use of the proceeds from the funds, especially in the area of banking the proceeds for easy access and sharing formular.

The sources also noted that the board of the council has some other ulterior motives behind the collection other the ones canvassed to the associations, which include the training and retraining of freight forwarders, provision of welfare for the associations and building capacity for the practitioners, among several others.

It was further gathered that the council might not be honest in terms of the reasons it gave to the leaderships of the associations that made them support the collection of the fee and also urged their members to do same. This also informed the decision of the various associations to boycott the launch of the fee so that the council will properly brief them to guide them on whether to continue with the support or otherwise.

Investigations showed that one of the members of the associations has already filed a suit challenging the propriety of the CRFFN to impose the fee in the first instance, which many have also argued negates the Federal Government’s policy of encouraging the ease of doing business in the shipping as a way of reducing cost of operations at the nation’s seaports.

Fresh facts also emerged that contrary to earlier claims by the chairman of the governing council of the CRFFN, Tsanni Abubakar that council harmonised its platforms with those of the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA and the Nigeria Customs Service for easy and hitch-free collection, the CRFFN created a fresh platform for the collection of the fee, which makes it more difficult and time-wasting.

The council had at the launch noted that the collection, which is currently at the trial stage, would be observed for three weeks during which it is expected to perfect the processes to make it easier for the freight forwarders to make the payments.