Ex-Shippers’ Council Boss, Bello Urges Freight Forwarders To Embrace Technology

Ex-Shippers’ Council Boss, Bello Urges Freight Forwarders To Embrace Technology
Former Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello

 A former Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) Hassan Bello, has urged freight forwarders to embrace technology, saying that the usage of technology is key to achieving professionalism in the freight forwarding practice in Nigeria.

 Bello who made the call during the 24th anniversary of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) in Lagos on last week, lamented that agents are reluctant to embrace technology as most of their transactions are still conducted manually in an era that is characterized by technological advancement.

The former NSC boss called on regulatory agencies in the industry to ensure that technology is entrenched in the freight forwarding practice to achieve contact less cargo clearing processes at the nation’s ports. “Why would you send a freight forwarder to the port checking for a rotation number or invoice when you can do it in your office? That is the modern practice. We still go to shipping companies, banks and see large numbers of freight forwarders still struggling and making the port a contact port while what we are advocating is a contact less port. Freight forwarders must embrace technology so that they do not become extinct,” he said.

 Bello, who chaired the event also said the business of freight forwarding must be restructured with a view to reducing the numbers to about seven companies with adequate knowledge of world economy, professionalism and consolidation. “It is only the freight forwarders that you see in the port now. What is he doing there? Because we have the penchant of not growing, everybody wants to be the boss in this profession.

They should have consolidation. Why would you have one million freight forwarders, when we can have five, six, seven importing companies to handle the situation? We don’t need the multitude of freight forwarders and one man business that does not even have an office,” he said. President of NAGAFF, Tochukwu Ezizi (4th from left); Chairman, Board of Trustees of NAGAFF, Chidiebere Enelamah; Founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, and Acting Registrar/ CEO, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Mrs Chinyere Uromta and other guests during the NAGAFF 24th anniversary in Lagos.

Bello also urged the freight forwarders to focus on exports, which he said remained important in growing the nation’s economy.

 In his address at the occasion, founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, harped on the need for the freight forwarders to embrace education, saying that there is no age limit to learning. This, he said, informed the establishment of the NAGAFF Academy for training and retraining of freight forwarders in his efforts to build capacity and professionalize the freight forwarding practice. “You can go back to school at any age. You will be more confident to handle your operation when you have knowledge. This is why I went all out to bring about the NAGAFF Academy,” he told the freight forwarders.

 Aniebonam who took a swipe at the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) said the Council is as good as dead as it has failed to live up to expectations of sanitizing the practice of freight forwarding and professionalising the trade.

 He argued that CRFFN is not a government agency stating that the liberation struggle to ensure the Council is taken back from the full control of government is still ongoing. According to him, “we have to rejig the Council to be supervised by the CRFFN because right now, the Council is as good as dead.”

 Earlier, in his welcome address, President of NAGAFF, Tochukwu Ezizi, said NAGAFF, which started from a humble beginning has grown in numerical strength to over 10,000 members nationwide.

 Ezizi, while highlighting some of the successes recorded by NAGAFF in the past 24 years said the association has contributed immensely to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through adequate payment of duties, levies and Practitioner Operating Fees accrued to the federal government.

He, however, called on the Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to work towards making the nation’s ports more efficient and competitive with global standards especially under the current African Continental Free Trade Agreement in order to attract more ship calls from the region. “If Nigerian ports must remain competitive to attract more cargo flow in the region, NPA, Customs and Shippers’ Council and others have to check the inefficiencies in the ports and customs operations. For example, port charges, arbitrary hike in duty and terminal charges indirectly affects port operational efficiency; illegal activities of non- state actors within and around the ports terminals and proliferation of agencies contribute to cargo clearing delays,” he said.  

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