…disappoints with siddon look of NPA, Shippers Council
By Gboyega Oni
The battle over the issuance of gate pass and subsequent charging of port users for the pass by the management of Port and Terminal Multiservice Limited (PTML) is yet to be over.
A couple of months back, there was brouhaha over the port pass as customs agents kicked against it and the right government agencies could not reprimand PTML for the act. PTML has had the upper hand and acting as the law. Without the pass, even if the port user possesses the legal port pass issued the Nigerian Ports Authority, PTML would still not allow the user into its terminal.
Again, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), has the raised the dust over the matter as he called on the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN), Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni, to activate the power of arrest in the CRFFN Act to arrest officials of PTML with the backing of the Police over the illegality since NPA has surrendered its controlling power and mandate to its tenant.
Aniebonam said that he was disturbed by the unconcerned attitude of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Shippers Council and the Police over the illegality and extortion of the lawful agents by PTML management thus denying them entrance into its port terminal because of their refusal to collect its illegal port pass.
The NAGAFF Founder condemned this illegality and ‘siddon look’ behaviour of NPA, Shippers Council and the Police, at the 2018 Freight Forwarders’ Day held in Apapa, Lagos on Thursday November 29, 2018.
According to him, ‘’a lot of things are wrong with the port system in the country. In the eyes of the Nigerian Ports Authority, the port landlord; the Nigerian Shippers Council, the commercial regulator; and the Port Police the management of Port and Terminal Multiservice Limited (PTML) is perpetrating illegality and compelling port users to obtain its illegal port pass with a fee. PTML is stopping agents from performing their legitimate jobs because of port pass that is unknown to the law. It is unfortunate that NPA is incapacitated about it.
‘’Freight forwarders will no longer play a second fiddle role in the port anymore. Time has come for the CRFFN to exercise its power of arrest as contained in its Act, to arrest, in touch with the Police, and prosecute the officials of PTML over the illegality by charging them to court. The CRFFN has to use the Police to enforce laws in the port.’’
The Founder agitated for the recognition of individuals by the CRFFN as the declarant in cargo transaction instead of the corporate entity as the declarant the Customs which, he noted, abhors a lot infractions and corruption in cargo operation in the port.
Aniebonam, who was overwhelmingly praised by various personalities at the event for his dogged fight for the liberation of freight forwarding and transport industry generally in the country, informed that over 6000 containers are lying fallow in the ports and their owners are incurring heavy demurrage daily, weekly and monthly because of operational deficiency in our port system. He added that the country is losing billions of Naira because of the development.
On seizure of cargo on transit by the Federal Operation Unit of the Nigeria Customs Service, the NAGAFF Founder reiterated the need for freight forwarders to adhere to the import rules and guidelines by always genuinely declaring their cargo documents.
Finally quitting freight forwarding association activities, he said that he was now fulfilled with the composition of the governing council of the CRFFN where NAGAFF is represented by six members and time was now for him to bow out of NAGAFF activities finally. He charged his contemporaries in other associations like the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) to quit too, to give the young ones opportunity to lead the industry.