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Stakeholders decry unprofessionalism among Freight forwarders, Customs brokers

At Prince Olayiwola Shittu’s 68th birthday celebration in Lagos.

Stakeholders in the maritime industry have
condemned the freight forwarders and licensed customs brokers over
unprofessional practices in the cause of their operations at the ports.

The stakeholders expressed their views in
that regard during the 68
th birthday celebration of Prince Olayiwola
Shittu, the immediate past President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed
Customs Agents (ANLCA) in Lagos  on Monday.

Speaking, the Executive
Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) Mr. Hassan Bello, said
activities of the fake and touts among the practitioners could be felt at the
border stations, airports and seaports.

Noting that the freight forwarders and customs brokers have
contributed immensely to the growth of the maritime industry, he said the trend
of unprofessional practices cannot be allowed to continue.

He pointed out that the ugly situation may not be unconnected
with the statement that in licensing freight forwarders or customs brokers, the
Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) pays more attention to the registration
fees than the issue of professionalism.

Describing this as dangerous to the national economy, Bello
was of the view that those who seek customs agency licences should first be
compelled to go through the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in
Nigeria (CRFFN) which has been empowered by constitutional provisions to
regulate the freight forwarders.

Bello pointed out that another problem affecting the
professional was lack of synergy among their various associations, a
development he said should be addressed by the CRFFN.

He said the practice of freight forwarding was so important
to the industry and the national economy that it cannot be taken over by touts
and unprofessionals.

For effective freight forwarding practice, he called on the
practitioners to be part of the CRFFN to achieve global standard practice.

Freight forwarders, he said, must be professionals like
lawyers, stating that they are not different.

The NSC boss said there was the need for the establishment of
a freight forwarding institution accredited by the National Universities
Commission (NUC) as part of the conscious efforts to enthrone professionalism
among practitioners.

Speaking also,  a
former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Chief Adebayo
Sarumi, said the  customs agents were
simply ‘hustlers’, explaining that this was the reason for establishing the Council
for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to bring sanity to
the industry.

Sarumi said unprofessional
practices among the freight forwarders would not have been the case if practitioners
had followed what Prince Olayiwola Shittu had been preaching.

He said the problem against practitioners was ‘extreme
unionism’, adding that all the associations in the industry beginning with
National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF)
Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), National Council for
Managing Directors of Customs Agents (NCMDCA) and others were working in
opposite directions as against the objectives of setting up CRFFN.

He called on the leaders of the associations to eschew egoism
and clannishness for the CRFFN to work.

Sarumi said that one reason why Nigerian practitioners only
settle for one or two containers to clear at the ports as against handling
project cargoes was because of their unprofessional attitude.

Advising the freight forwarders on the need to follow global
standard practice, Sarumi said that would be the only reason that shipowners would
be encouraged to engage their services for clearance of project cargoes, rather
than seek the services from foreign companies.

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