The National Coordinator Save Nigeria Frieght Forwarders Importers and Exporters Coalitions (SNFFIEC) Chief Osita Chukwu, has condemned the collection of the Practitioner Operating Fee (POF) at the nation’s sea ports.
According to the CRFFN chief, under the POF regime, importers will pay N3.50 per ton of cargo imported into the country, N1.50 per kilo for air cargo, N1, 000 on each imported 20-feet container and N2,000 per 40-feet container.
Speaking to journalists yesterday, the SNFFIEC Coordinator informed that the collection of the POF will hinder the ease of doing business initiative of the Federal Government.
He noted that collecting the POF at a time the nation is still battling the impact of the COVID -19 pandemic will be adding to the negative impact of the pandemic
Osita Chukwu informed that CRFFN mandated the terminal operators and shipping companies to reject any frieght forwarders or Customs agents that brings any cargo delivery paper without showing proof of the POF payment.
He said if the government failed to address the issue it will leave them with no choice than to seek redress at the court of law while alleging that goverment established CRFFN to rip off freight forwarders and the public.
“Government has established CRFFN to rip off freight forwarders and the public. How could you check the tenacity of the Government and people instead of putting heads together to manage the era of Covid-19, now they are trying to invoke some certain principles that will undermine citizens welfare,” he said.
If any shipping companies or terminal operators fail to deliver cargo to any freight forwarders, he said frieght forwarders would file a court case them including the CRFFN.
He alleged that most of the people who are in the CRFFN do not have licence to practice freigt forwarding and they are not eligible to be there, adding that some that have licence are owing Government in the tunes of million of maria and they are still allowed to be the members of CRFFN.
“Some licences have been locked up by Customs and they are still parading themselves as council members. You can’t practice freight forwarding in Nigeria without Customs license.
“Those in the council are not legitimate to be there and collect the POF. I’m not against the setting up th Council. But let there be diligent in setting it up the Council. Let there be transparency, accountability and rules of engagement,” he said. He said the collection was not in line with the Ease of Doing Business at the ports, saying that all other countries in the world are trying to cut cost especially this period of COVID-19 while Government is imposing additional cost on the citizens.
“In the whole West Africa, Nigeria is the costliest place to clear cargoes and you are trying to add another salt into injury. Collection of POF is not the way to go. We make money for government and let them pay us the money we make to run the Council.
“We are the one bringing the bill of laden, going to Customs to perfect it and log in into the single window. We get the amount to pay, we go to the shipping companies, we release and we go to terminal operators to take up cargo delivery and pay delivery order, you pay transport to move the cargo, as you are coming out, you pay wharf landing fee into Lagos State Government’s coffers and after all these, you expect us to go and pay POF. All these fees are impediment to clearance of cargo at the ports,” he lamented.