By Adegboyega Oni
The Head of 100 Percent Compliance Team of the National Association of Government Approval Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko has blamed the inertia of the Nigeria Shippers’ Council and the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) in discharging in their statutory responsibilities to the freight forwarders.
Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko said if the two agencies had lived up to their responsibilities, freight forwarders would not have been subjected to all sorts of ridiculous charges and poor conditions of services by some government agencies involving in cargo clearance processes and terminal operators and bonded terminals which do not commensurate with the quality of service they offer.
Tanko stated this while reacting to the attacks on the team and accused some terminal operators and bonded terminal operators who averse to complying with the rules of engagement. He also accused some elements in the freight forwarding industry which he described as irredeemably corrupt and thrive on circumventing the rules, as collaborating to frustrate the efforts of the team.
Tanko noted that freight forwarders were being subjected to all kinds of frivolous charges and conditions of services by terminal operators and bonded terminals while the Nigerian Shippers Council and CRFFN were feigning ignorance of such maltreatment.
While vowing that no amount of intimidation and blackmail would deter the team remained focused on ensuring that all stakeholders play by the rules
He disclosed that it was the repeated complaints and accusations by government agencies and terminal operators that freight forwarders are not compliant that made NAGAFF set up the team to self-audit themselves and whip erring members into line.
“We have written a series of letters to the Council over the challenges of our members in the hands of these operators but they have done nothing.
“The CRFFN cannot claim ignorance of our problems because our members made up the bulk of the Council’s membership.
“NAGAFF and ANLCA have six members apiece while the other three freight forwarding associations on the Council have one representative each.
“So they are aware of our challenges but the problem is that the Council is not effective. It has failed the whole freight forwarding industry which it’s supposed to regulate. What the Council is after is how to collect the POF.
He said that the team will not be deterred by the unwarranted attacks by those who he said are resisting changes in the industry.
“We are focused and determined to enforce compliance on our members and protest the non-compliance among the government agencies and service providers. No amount of blackmail and intimidation or name-calling will make us dither our duties. I have personally come under attacks and threats because of this exercise.
“But in all of these trials, I remain steadfast, focused, unwavering and committed to the cause of liberating my members from the shackles of mindless extortions and unwholesome practices of corrupt government agencies and exploitative service providers.
“The government agencies have asked us to be compliant and play by the rules. That is what we are trying to achieve among our members.
“We have about 40 percent compliance level among our members and hope to get about 50 to 60 percent by the end of the year. It is a gradual process.
“We have even engaged our principals who are the importers to made correct declarations. So if we decided to be compliant, the service providers should also be compliant by having the necessary capacity to do the job, by not overcharging us and by getting the necessary equipment.
“The officials of regulatory agencies like Customs, NAFDAC, SON and even Police should all play the game by its rules and stop their extortions”, Tanko declared.
He took a swipe at Denca bonded terminal which he claimed has the worse services in the industry but whose charges are the highest.
“They don’t have the equipment. They rent an ordinary forklift and the floor of the terminal is always flooded during the rainy season. You can’t position your containers during the rainy season.
“This is what we protested against at their terminal before they begged us to give them some times to made amends
“I am now surprised when I heard them calling members of my team touts who have come to extort their customers. his claim is not only false but unsubstantiated. “How can you call licensed Customs agents touts?
“I challenge any operator who has proof of extortion against me or any member of the team to come forward,” he said.
He, however, said they have given Denca till the end of this month to upgrade their services or “they should be ready to kill all of us when we go back to enforce their compliance level with standard practice procedures.”