By Francis Ugwoke
The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Thursday announced measures to reform the freight forwarding industry for improved trade facilitation.
In a statement issued by the Chairman , Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni, the Council also directed the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and other associations to hold on with the activities of their Compliance or Taskforce Committees that were formed recently.
Tsanni who particularly commended the leadership of NAGAFF for the efforts in establishing a compliance committee to address issues of operational challenges in the ports however maintained that the Committee has to hold on.
Tsanni was quoted saying, “On Compliance or Taskforce Committees formed by accredited associations, the Council’s duty is to set standard for best of practices, regulate and moderate such practices where and when necessary to foster industry discipline and harmony. To this direction, the leadership of various accredited associations who has course to set up compliance committees to tackle operational challenges are duly commended, especially the management of NAGAFF. However such committees have been directed to put on hold their activities pending the restructuring and reintegration processes by the Council in line with its regulatory objectives”.
Tsanni disclosed that the reform measure was in keeping with the directive by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on compliance in the area of Ease of Doing Business among Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) .
He added that the Council was doing everything to address areas affecting freight forwarding practice in ease of doing business in the country.
The statement reads: “After due administrative consultations, the need to undertake immediate professional reforms becomes imperative as the sector is mostly misrepresented in the public through the media to the extent that the government now seems to be in misplacement with the level of professionalism inherent in the profession, especially so with practitioners ethics, integrity and discipline, indeed calls for concern.
“Pursuant to this objective, the Governing Council convened an extra-ordinary emergency meeting of the highest leadership of all the accredited association. At the end of the long deliberated meeting, resolutions were reached for administrative convenience. However, other critical issues were penciled down for public consumption especially the practitioners and stakeholders within the international trade and supply chain.”
He disclosed that the Council will begin a regulatory measure which will include “formation (registration locally and internationally) of the Federation of Freight Forwarding Association of Nigeria”.
He explained the new body will be the central and unified voice for the freight forwarding associations.
The new body, he added, will also be the global representative that will align the freight forwarding associations and practitioners in Nigeria to other freight forwarding nations, particularly FIATA.
Tsanni said the Council will direct its Registration committee visit all the accredited associations’ secretariats for the purpose of re-evaluation and reassessment templates.
The Committee, he added, will in consultation with the Council’s management develop the criteria for retaining the associations as accredited by the Council
He also said once the Committee completes its assignment, the Governing Council shall act on the report.
The statement also dwelt on categorization of associations, saying this will be considered during an executive meeting.
“The Governing Council shall consider in its next general executive meeting, the steps associations’ categorization shall follow as prerequisite, conditions and qualifications for categorization which for now is being preserved for administrative convenience but will be made public at the appropriate time.”
“On corporate and individual membership registration, it is important to reiterate that the provision of the Act is clear on practitioners whose names are not found in the CRFFN register of freight forwarders. For emphasis sake, it is an offence to practice or be seen as a freight forwarder when you are not properly registered. The Council shall approve for the last time a grace period for non-registered freight forwarders which shall be communicated by the Council Registrar. Similarly, any practitioner reported by his/her clients or any other critical stakeholder for professional misconduct should be prepared to face the tribunal.”
Commending the freight forwarders for the take-off in collection of Practitioners’ Operating Fee (POF), he said, “together we shall reposition our noble profession to enviable heights once more” .
By Francis Ugwoke