- President of NAGAFF, Tochukwu Ezizi (left), Chairman, Board of Trustees, Chidiebere Enelamah, Founder, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, Ag Registrar, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, Chinyere Uromta, and other guests during the NAGAFF 24th anniversary in Lagos
By Anthony Nwachukwu
With increasing improvement in cargo handling and logistics technology across the world, freight forwarders must embrace education and technology or be rendered useless by emerging trends in the industry, former Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello, has warned.
Bello, who spoke in Lagos as chairman at the 24th anniversary of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), with the theme, “Agro-allied Products Export: The Bedrock to Sustainable Development,” described technology as key to professionalism and future of the practice.
Worried that most of the freight forwarders’ transactions were still being conducted manually, he wondered: “Why would you send a freight forwarder to the port to check for rotation number or invoice when you can do it in your office? That is the modern practice.
“We still go to shipping companies, banks and see large number of freight forwarders still struggling and making the port a contact port while what we are advocating is a contactless port. Freight forwarders must embrace technology so that they do not become extinct.
He further canvassed a restructured and consolidated freight forwarding practice whereby the entire industry is collapsed under about seven companies with adequate knowledge of world economy, professionalism.
According to him, “it is only the freight forwarders that you see in the port now. What is he doing there? Because we have the penchant of not growing, everybody wants to be the boss in this profession.
“They should have consolidation. Why would you have one million freight forwarders when we can have five, six, seven importing companies to handle the situation? We don’t need the multitude of freight forwarders and one-man businesses that do not even have an office.”
On his part, founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, emphasised that money (wealth) without knowledge is useless as the freight forwarder would continue to waste that money bribing regulatory agents out of ignorance.
According to him, he established the NAGAFF Academy for training and retraining of freight forwarders to build capacity and professionalise the practice. Therefore, “you can go back to school at any age.
“You will be more confident to handle your operation when you have knowledge. This is why I went all out to bring about the NAGAFF Academy”
In his welcome address, NAGAFF President, Tochukwu Ezizi, noted that with over 10,000 members, the association has continued to wax stronger and has contributed immensely to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through adequate duties, levies and Practitioner’s Operating Fees.
However, he insisted that “if Nigerian ports must remain competitive to attract more cargo flow in the region, NPA, Customs and Shippers’ Council and others have to check the inefficiencies in the ports and customs operations.”
According to him, “port charges, arbitrary hike in duty and terminal charges indirectly affect port operational efficiency,” just as “illegal activities of non-state actors within and around the port terminals and proliferation of agencies contribute to cargo clearing delays.”