Nigeria Loses N130bn Annually As Foreigners Take Over 90% Freight Forwarding Jobs

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…ANCLA proposes bill to indigenize Customs brokerage practice

ANALCAFrom available indications an estimated 10,000 indigenous freight forwarding jobs are now at stake as foreign shipping lines may have taken over freight forwarding businesses in the country.

This was even as stakeholders have alleged that the Nigerian maritime sector is losing over N130 billion annually to foreign freight operators.

With freight forwarding, as one of the most successful sub-sectors of the logistics industry, it is said to have contributed hugely toward the economic development of the country’s economy over the years.

According to the National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tony Iju  Mwabunike, Nigerian freight forwarders are the ones helping  Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) realize its annual target, estimated at over N1.5 trillion annually.

Against this background, he argued that the services of freight forwarders cannot be overemphasized as they have a direct responsibility to ensure service, speed, and accuracy with every shipment. They are the backbone of the transport and logistics industry in the business of transporting goods and services.

The freight forwarding industry provides companies with the most efficient solution to the shipping process. Without freight forwarders, the entire shipment process may not only be slowed down but can experience many complications that are simply too much for companies to handle.

For example, the process of moving cargo overseas involves several different foreign transport protocols and regulations.

Companies that are unfamiliar with this can find themselves in challenging spots when dealing with foreign customers and in some countries including the Benin Republic, freight forwarding practice is only meant for their indigenes as a way of creating jobs for their citizens.

But today the profession is being dominated by foreigners to the detriment of the economy that is losing over N130 billion annually. The same reason is said to be yielding a corresponding loss of business to the Chinese, Indians and other foreigners.

Daily Sun learned that the foreign shipping lines could not go to Cotonou, Republic of Benin, and attempt to take freight forwarding jobs from the citizens. If they try such in the Republic of Benin, they would be chased away.

With all sincerity, freight forwarding in Nigeria should be an exclusive business to Nigerians as it is done in the Republic of Benin. But in reality, the foreigners had taken over almost all the processing of cargo clearance at the ports, leaving their Nigerian counterparts idle.

To stem the dominance of foreigners in freight forwarding, ANLCA urged the Federal Government should exhume the Indigenisation Policy to protect Nigerians from imminent massive job loss in the freight forwarding business and the port industry as a whole.

Recently at the National Executive Council meeting of ANLCA,  its acting National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Kayode Farinto, said that the nucleus of freight forwarding should be left to Nigerians, adding that foreigners have taken over 90 percent of freight forwarding jobs in Nigeria.

According to Nwabunike, the association had drafted a bill through its legal adviser on the need to indigenize Nigeria Customs Service brokerage.

“Foreigners have taken over 90 percent of our jobs by practicing door-to-door services or allowing non-functional Nigerians to be directors in their companies. We have got lawyers and put up a bill on the need to indigenize Customs’ brokerage, which is a nucleus of freight forwarding, to be left for Nigerians alone.

“About five years ago I had a consignment at Cotonou port, I had my Bill of Laden, despite being a customs broker in Nigeria, I could not clear my consignment at Cotonou port, I had to give it to an indigenous practitioner.

“Very few members of the association are currently involved in the clearing of project cargoes. We now have a situation whereby Lebanese, and Indians are now licensed as customs brokers and Controllers of customs even give them more respect than the Nigerians. A major issue that is going to be a tsunami in the sector is indigenization of customs brokerage,” he said.

“The issue of foreigners taking over clearing jobs is a keg of gunpowder and if nothing is done about it, we will all have ourselves to blame. We are, however, setting up a committee which will give a proper guideline,” he stated.

However, he accused the Egyptians, Lebanese and Chinese of taking over the freight forwarding industry in Nigeria, adding that NCS was given these nationals preference over Nigerians.

Also, addressing members of the Importers Association of Nigeria (IMAN), the Chairman Governing Board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Alhaji Tsanni Abubakar said that non-professionalism is the main reason why foreigners continue to practice freight forwarding, thereby snatching jobs that belongs to Nigerians.

He, therefore, harped on the need for payment of the Practitioners Operations Fees (POF) so as to ensure training and re-training of freight forwarders.

According to him, it is only in the freight forwarding sector that individuals leave their villages, come to the ports and start practicing freight forwarding without any prior training.

He warned that all these have to come to an end, as the Council is now ensuring that anybody that must practice freight forwarding must first register with CRFFN.

He said that 20 percent of the POF collection is dedicated to training and re-training freight forwarders.

“When people are fighting and arguing that they would not pay POF, I sympathize with them because they don’t know the benefits of it. You cannot just leave Anambra or Kano and just come into the port and start practicing. There is no serious profession or sector that allows people to just carry their bags from their village, go to the CAC for registration and continue practicing, it is only seen in the freight forwarding business.

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