Transport Minister issues ultimatum to freight forwarders

David Adekunle, Lagos.

Rotimi Amaechi

Transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi has directed freight forwarders in the maritime industry to go and register with the Nigerian Customs Service within two weeks or lose their licenses.

Amaechi gave this directive at a conference on “Improved Ports Efficiency in Nigeria” by the Maritime Correspondents’ Organisation of Nigeria (MARCON) in Lagos.

The minister also advised multiple freight forwarding associations to, as a matter of urgency, resolve their differences with the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) or risk being proscribed.

According to him, the transport ministry and the Customs Comptroller General had agreed to meet, saying that he might be forced to instruct the CRFFN to commence a fresh registration of practitioners.

“Let me talk to the customs practitioners. There is a law that you people are breaking and that law has to do with an agency in my ministry.

I have met with the Comptroller General of Customs and we are starting a fresh registration of all customs agents and the requirement will be to go and register there (CRFFN) before you can become a customs agent,”he added.

Ameachi said that the maritime sector was largely private sector driven with government providing the appropriate policy and regulatory framework.

He also reiterated the ministry’s commitment to partner with the National Assembly to ensure that the four sectoral bills pending before the upper and lower chambers are passed into law and implemented accordingly.

He mentioned the pending  bills as the Nigeria Railways Authority bill (2015),National Transport Commission bill (2015),Nigerian Ports and Harbour Authority bill and the National Inland Waterways Authority bill.

Decongestion

The minister added that “the present administration was committed to discourage the long haulage of containers through the highway.”

The gridlock constantly experienced by trucks and motorist going to and from the road to Nigerian ports is unacceptable. 

Government is determined to revamp the railway sector to further encourage shippers to utilize the railways in order to avoid the proliferation of privately owned and operated road haulage services which has resulted in the unregulated and chaotic situation on roads that lead to the ports.”

He also disclosed that the port in Onitsha, Anambra State was already completed.

“The overriding objectives of all these efforts are to ensure cost effective and efficient port services comparable to what obtains in advanced maritime nations.

And also it make Nigeria the maritime hub for movement of goods and passengers between the West and Central African Coastal Regions and the rest of the world.”

 Conflicts

President of MARCON, Mr. Ismail Aniemu said that there had periodic sectoral conflicts between stakeholders.

Aniemu reiterated that under the ministry, agency heads were majorly in acting capacity at the moment, which in turn affects quick decision making.

He added that” the media has regularly reported instances of conflicts between terminal operators and port users such as customs brokers and truckers; duplicating roles of NPA, NIMASA,shippers and shipping lines with the Nigerian shippers

With the present regime’s pace of fight against corruption that has affected a number of critical job categories in the maritime and aviation industry and we believe the Honourable Minister of Transport is equally concerned and willing to alert President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Executive Council on the need to urgently close the gap,” he concluded.