Don't Miss

Practicing fees threatens port operations

By on September 21, 2013

The controversy surrounding the issue of practicing fees, which caused bad blood between freight forwarding associations and the regulatory council over the years, has refused to go away.

The recent announcement by Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) banning further collection of practicing fees by Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) declared ‘illegal,’ has kicked up a storm that shows no sign of abating.

CRFFN announced recently that the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, had directed that the ‘illegal’ collection of practicing fees by the Joint Task Force of ANLCA and NAGAFF be stopped. The dues were allegedly being collected at SAHCOL, NAHCO, Federal Ocean Terminal (FOT) and the West African Container Terminal (WACT) in Onne, Port Harcourt.

“We are stopping all illegal collection they are collecting. We are stopping everything. The Act is very clear, it has stated what the associations are supposed to collect, so whatever they were collecting in the past, with the enactment of the Act and coming to force of the Act, are now illegal,” registrar of CRFFN, Mike Jukwe told Daily Independent on Wednesday.

According to him, the associations can only collect membership fees and subscriptions. “Anything outside that is illegal and we have to stop it. Police has been informed. The associations know what to collect. Council is working out something, once we get the approval from the minister, they will be directed on what to collect and how to collect it. That will come out soon, but we have to be sure that we have stopped all the mess that is going on then we start doing things as it is done internationally.”

National president of ANLCA, Olayiwola Shittu, denied knowledge of any directive from the minister of transport to stop whatever collection, even as he said the association does not engage in any illegality.

“I have no comment. We have not received any directive from the minister in that regard. We are not doing illegal collection. We don’t have any letter from the minister to that effect. We are not collecting anything illegal at the port, at no time have we done illegality,” Shittu told our correspondent in Lagos.

While the CRFFN described the collection by the associations as illegal, it also said that the collection of the monies has further added to the high cost of doing business at Nigerian ports.

In a letter signed by the Confidential Secretary of CRFFN, George Olufunmilayo, dated of September 6, and addressed to the management of all the terminals, CRFFN noted that the directive was issued by the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar for the associations to stop further collection of the fees.

“In line with the concern expressed by the honourable minister, we solicit your cooperation to stop the illegal collection of monies that contributes to the high cost of doing business in our ports,” the letter reads in part.

ANLCA is the oldest and largest cargo clearing association operating in the ports. NAGAFF and other smaller associations came out from ANLCA. Other associations have been at loggerheads with ANLCA over their inability to share from proceeds ANLCA collects from members.

National President of the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN), Frank Ukoh, alleged that ANLCA and NAGAFF have been collecting the practicing fees for years and have deliberately sidelined other associations from the sharing formula of the dues, even though all agents, including AREFFN members, are paying it.

He alleged that all efforts by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to resolve the disparities between the five existing associations had been thwarted by both ANLCA and NAGAFF, adding that management of the WACT terminal had incorporated the dues into the fees that must be paid and stamped by ANLCA before cargo can be released from the terminal.

Ukoh advised the CRFFN to look into other ports in Lagos where the practicing fees is still being collected by both associations and put a stop to it.  He said, “It is not enough if you stopped it at the airport and Onne port, what about Tin Can? They are still collecting the money at Tin Can, PTML and all the other terminals.”

Federal Government’s approval last year, for the collection of transaction fees for the CRFFN generated the controversy now threatening port operations as both ANLCA and NAGAFF controls more than 90 per cent of membership of clearing agents operating in the ports.



[Daily Independent]