21 October 2012, Sweetcrude, Lagos – FOUNDER of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF); Dr Boniface Aniebonam has urged the National Assembly to review some maritime laws to move the industry forward.
Aniebonam said that the country would need to change some of its laws if it wants to be ranked among the top maritime nations.
“Some of the challenges can be seen from the Act of the National Assembly that gave right to Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) which regulates the freight forwarders.
“To an extent, it is in conflict with the Customs and Excise Management Act.
“Especially Section 19 of CRFFN Act that gave credence to the freight forwarders, thereby reducing the authority of the Customs and Excise Management Act under Section 153, 154, 155, 156,” he said.
He said that the freight forwarders experience a lot of difficulties when clearing their cargoes.
“In practical terms, the conflict can be seen from a very stronghold of the Customs law, which is an extant law.
“If you submit your documents to the Customs and you are duly authorized and licensed, you have a free way.
“If you negate the Customs laws and go ahead to implement the freight forwarders Act, Customs might tell you that its law does not recognise the freight forwarders Act,” he said.
He described the development as ‘a very big challenge that should be tidied up’.
Dr Aniebonam advised that there should either be a ministerial discussion to work out the modalities for both laws to operate, or there should be an amendment of the laws.
He said that the costs of doing business in the ports were still very high, adding that this had the tendency of defeating the purpose of the concession policy.
“The concept of concession was to create efficiency at the port but what we have now is that it is more expensive to remove cargo from the port.
“The high cost of doing business in our ports is a big challenge to the freight forwarders.
“That needs to be tackled by the government so that the country will not continue to lose revenue through smuggling, or routing the cargoes through the neighbouring ports,” he said.