Killing the Maritime Regulator


Starved of funds by federal government, the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding is dying gradually

|  By Pita Ochai  |  Feb. 11, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

THE Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, CRFFN, is dying. CRFFN, which regulates freight forwarding in the country, is being starved of funds by the federal government. In the last one year, the council has not received any funds from the federal government to enable it implement key programmes and activities that will ensure that the CRFFN delivers on its mandate as enshrined in the Act establishing it.

The dire financial situation of the council has been compounded by its inability to generate the needed funds from the registration and practicing fees from its members because of its face-off with leading freight forwarding associations, especially the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF.

Containers waiting to be cleared at the sea port
Containers waiting to be cleared at the sea port

This has practically paralysed the council’s activities so much that staff salaries have remained unpaid for about three months. Enforcement officers, recruited late last year by the council, are yet to receive any salary. They are being owned salary arrears of three months. With this development, recent moves by the council to arrest the booming practice of unregistered or quack freight forwarders have become impossible.

According to Lanre Oladipo, a freight forwarder, the death of CRFFN would pose great danger to the maritime industry because unregistered and quack freight forwarders would take over the industry which would remove efficiency and a drop in revenues that accrue to the government from maritime operations.

A CRFFN official, who spoke unanimously, said it was unclear why the federal government has refused to fund CRFFN. According to him, only a government who wants to kill the maritime industry would make a move that would jeopardize the operations of CRFFN. “We should learn from where things are being done the right way and stop this retrogressive attitude to issues. Operations of freight forwarding have become highly professional and efficient in other parts of the world, why are we not moving towards professionalising it like other countries which is what CRFFN is set up to do,” he said.

According to Olayiwola Shittu, ANLCA president, the need for reforms of the maritime sector by the federal government of Nigeria for efficiency, improved transparencies, and added value to the economy of the nation led to the establishment of CRFFN in 2007. It is estblaished by Act No. 16 of 2007 and its operation started on April 30, 2007. The council is charged with, amongst other responsibilities, the regulation and control the practice of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria. It is also to promote the highest standards of competence, practice and conduct among members of the freight forwarding profession. All efforts to get the federal ministry of transport to comment on the funding of the council failed.

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