• Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

Freight Forwarders Engages NSC On Minimum Service Standard

Byadmin

Aug 9, 2023

The Nigeria Shippers’ Council this morning organised an engagement meeting with freight forwarders where a draft minimum service standard for freight forwarding operation in Nigeria was discussed. 

The meeting was chaired by the deputy director, standard services of the Nigeria Shippers’ Council, Mrs. H. I. Adaba and seconded by Mrs. Ibeh, the chief operations officer, standard services of the same Council.

After the initial formal procedures, Mrs. Adaba read out the draft Minimum Standard which states that “Anyone in freight forwarding practice;

1. Shall have a traceable office fully equipped with functional internet access 

2. Shall be duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) 

3. A freight forwarder shall have a valid Custom’s license.

– In an event a freight forwarder uses a license other than his/hers, the penalty shall be on the owner of the license in event of service failure, such penalties shall include; 

i. Suspension from service  

ii. Made to face the tribunal 

iii. Blacklisted 

4, All commercial engagement between the agent and the consignee/shipper shall be formally documented 

5. In addition to the above, every freight forwarding contract shall have a Service Level Agreement which shall explicitly explain the extent of service to be rendered e.g. payment for delivery truck, warehousing including storage in transit, group age or consolidation, trucking to the agreed destination, payment of containers deposit/refund. 

6. Charges shall be tied to services based on the Service Level Agreement and fully receipted. 

7. Freight Forwarders must be conversant with the HS-Code classifications and shall offer honest and fair advice to that effect to avoid dispute during cargo clearance; failure which the agent shall bear the additional cost of cargo clearance. 

8. A freight forwarder is liable for any loss arising from any false declaration or wrong application of the HS code 

9. Provision for cost variation shall be evidently proven based on additional service rendered.

10. Proforma invoices, debit notes and receipts relating to transactions shall be duly forwarded to the consignee within 7 days of completion of transaction.

11. In addition, every transaction shall be receipted. 

12. No agent shall hold a lien on cargo or deliver to proxy except where there is an agreement with the consignee”.

Five different entities were invited to the meeting which included the Council for the Registration of Freight Forwarding in Nigerian (CRFFN), the Association of Nigerian Licenced Customs Agents (ANLCA), the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders NAGAFF), the African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics in Nigeria (APFFLON) and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and at the end the freight forwarders were asked to react to the draft standard and a flurry of questions, objections and modifications followed.

Ayodele Rasheed Shittu representing ANLCA stated that most of the contents of the draft guidelines are observed by freight forwarders, but that some consignees/importers do try to abuse the HS code for example using the US code 32 meant for clearing thinners with duty value of 5% to pay for paints with HS code 38 and duty value of 38%.

A major issue that angered the freight forwarders about the draft standard is the question of why the Shippers’ Council should also be setting standard when the act that established the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding has empowered them to regulate all freight forwarding activities in Nigeria, but they also asked what the NSC is doing to protect freight forwarders against foreigners who are now encroaching into their business.

The Acting Registrar of CRFFN, Chinyere Uromta talked about the responsibilities of the CRFFN on the regulation of freight forwarding, but added that she and her Council would like to have a meeting with the NSC before the next meeting with the freight forwarders.

The Tin Can Island chapter chairman of APFFLON, Akeem Ayobiojo talked about the challenges faced by freight forwarders and the need for the economic regulators, the NSC to be alive to their responsibilities and protect freight forwarders who are the generators of the revenues to the government.

Emmanuel Agubanze of NAGAFF opined that the NSC may have lost its bearing in the scheme of things as there should be a proper inter-agency collaboration and so advised the NSC to liaise with the CRFFN to regulate the freight forwarders. They also noted that section 19 of the CRFFN act stated that consignment should not be released to freight forwarders unless they can prove that they are registered with the CRFFN.

Alhaji Aliyu of the LCCI noted that the draft standard of operation contains some aspects  that may be beneficial to all and asks that the NSC protects the freight forwarders.

The freight forwarders generally demands that the Shipping Companies and Terminal Operators be addressed over their level of high-handedness and that truckers should also be regulated as part of the freight forwarding community. The freight forwarders were also totally miffed with the item number 8 on the draft service standard.

The freight forwarders agreed that freight forwarding is vast and that the Shippers’ Council and the Council should go and harmonise their stand, but they were also advised to go and compile their operational challenges and send same to the Shippers’ Council while copying the CRFFN before their next meeting.

By admin

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