Going by the resolution of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to commence full regulation of the freight forwarding sub-sector of the maritime industry, starting from January, 2015, practitioners of the trade may have to tighten their belts to avoid the hammer of the Council.
At a summit organized by the Council for accredited associations and training institutions in Lagos, last week, the Registrar of the Council, Sir Mike Jukwe read riot acts to the members of the associations that the Council is set to take the bull by the horns.
According to him, the Council has been conferred with powers to sanction erring practitioners who flout the rules of the games, adding that the Council’s tribunal would be resuscitated to begin prosecution of offenders.
In his word, “By the powers conferred on this Council, we will roll out some compliance which the associations are to comply with.
According to him, illegal practitioners shall be prosecuted by the tribunal of the Council which will start operations from January, noting that anyone found guilty shall be sentenced.
The Registrar stated further that the Council was ready to sanitize the industry as business as usual can no longer be tolerated.
“The Council will deregister any company that falls foul of the laws and by the time we deregister people and send them out of the industry, others will sit up,” he quipped.
However, he said that the Council would hold regular meetings with corporate bodies in the industry to strengthen the relationship between them.
However, hard days may soon be over for the CRFFN as the Minister of Transport, Sen. Idris Umar has said that the suspension on transaction fee by the Council will soon be lifted.
The Minister said this while commissioning the new secretariat of the Council in Lagos, earlier in the week.
According to him, process is on-going to lift the ban placed on the collection of the fee by the Council, stating that any moment from now, there will be a release in that regard.
In his speech, the Minister who was represented by Mr. Patrick Odey Ekawu, a Deputy Director (ICD), Maritime Services Department of the Federal Ministry of Transport said that the new office was necessary for the Council to achieve its mandates, adding that the present location of the office in Apapa will afford it an opportunity for development of a modern and global competition in freight forwarding business.
On training, he quipped that the Federal Government attached great importance on human capacity building.
He stated further that such training would position the staff to contend with emerging global challenges.
Earlier, the Registrar of the Council, Sir Mike Jukwe who during his opening speech enumerated inadequate funding as one of the challenges of the Council pleaded for lifting of suspension on collection of transaction fee which according to him is an Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
However, he said training and re-training of the Council’s workforce for maximum and timely service delivery was on the mandate of the agency.
“The Council can have professionally qualified and dedicated workforce through training and re-training. We are committed to this, as the soon to be declared open 2014 staff training and retreat is the third in the series but we also require targeted on the job short and long term training programmes”, he said.
Asked the cost of the rented new secretariat, he waived it by simply saying he could not speak about it at the time.”I cannot tell you anything about that one now,” he simply said.
Consequently, he said that the co-operation and support of all concerned freight forwarding associations would help to reposition the sub-sector to an enviable height in the country and to compete favourably with comity of nations as well as wealth creation.
Speaking earlier at the summit, the National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Shittu Olayiwola charged the training institutes to engage in more publicity and to reach out to the members of the associations as the executives could only persuade the members but could not force them to participate in the trainings.
The National President advised the training institutes to know the reason why they were accredited and to live up to the standards for which they were accredited.
He however called on the training institutions to take advantage of the space at the national secretariat of the association, even as he promised that the association was ready to cooperate with any training institute that is ready to add to its members.
Meanwhile as suggested by the President of ANLCA that the associations should have liaison officers in the Council to represent their interests, Dr. Kayode Farinto was promptly selected as the liaison officer of the ANLCA while others promised to have their own with time.
Meanwhile, most of the representatives of the accredited training institutions at the summit complained about high cost of training placed on the training programmes which serves as a form of despondency for the trainees most of who cannot afford the cost.
Prof. Olumakinde Odugbemi from Redeemer’s University said, “A lot more financial encouragement should be given to the low level agents who would want to operate to the level of freight forwarders; some of them are earning very low.”
He therefore called on the Council and the associations to subsidize the training cost for the trainees to be able to afford the training.
Also speaking, the Rector of Emdee Shipping, Mr. Chikere Chigozie who is also one of the accredited training institutions said that getting students was very difficult as some of the intending trainees would always go back after hearing the cost of the training.
He thereby asked that the cost be brought down.
While reacting, the Director of Education and Training of CRFFN, Alban Igwe said that the cost was not too much and stated that there were some people that always go abroad for training in spite of the situation of things in the country.