By Kenneth Jukpor
As part of efforts to ensure seamless port operations when the impending collection of Practitioners’ Operating Fees (POF) commences, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) has given assurances to support the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN).
The Registrar of CRFFN, Barr. Samuel Nwakohu revealed this during a press briefing in his office in Lagos last week, even as he noted that CRFFN has had robust sensitization programmes ahead of the imminent collection of POF.
Recall that the receipts for payments of POF have been approved by the Ministry of Finance as prerequisite for goods to exit the nation’s seaports, airports and land borders
Addressing journalists, Nwakohu said; “We had a long meeting with terminal operators and the Chairman of STOAN, Princess Vicky Haastrup was there. Initially, she thought we wanted them to collect for us, I said no. She was very happy because that was where the problem is going to be, as terminal operators don’t want to get involved in POF collection.”
The CRFFN boss stressed that the agency had a Federal Executive Council’s (FEC) mandate asking that SW Global, CRFFN’s technical partners collect the POF.
Speaking further on his meeting with STOAN, he said, “STOAN chairman was delighted and at the end of the day they agreed that they were going to support it. She said she was all in, on it. We agreed on integration which she said will take about three to four weeks but that will not stall the commencement of the POF”
He explained that after full integration with terminal operators the reference number of those who paid POF would be available on the bill of lading to enable the terminal operators run their checks before containers exit the terminals.
Nwakohu stressed that paucity of funds at the Council drove him to expedite the completion of the POF collection regime which was initiated by his predecessor.
“On assuming office on the 1st of February, 2019, there was an ongoing project known as the POF which I was made to understand was a viable avenue to raise Internally Generated Revenue for the country and the Council.
He noted that in one year, his leadership with the robust support of the Governing Board, has been able to seek several approvals; getting the ICRC to make a business case, Federal Executive Council (FEC) approval, and integration with relevant agencies like the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
“As at today, I am delighted to say that we have been able to integrate fully with the Nigerian Ports Authority and the Nigerian Customs Service. We haven’t been able to integrate fully with NCAA, negotiations are still ongoing in that regard”, he said.