Interviews

INTERVIEW :More Scanners Needed to Achieve Faster Cargo Clearance in Nigerian Ports – Ezisi ,NAGAFFPresident


 

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High Chief Tochukwu Ezisi, President National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders

Chief Tochukwu Ezisi, President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders(NAGAFF) told Ismail Aniemu that Nigeria can achieve more with Time Release Study, if the right technologies are put in place

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He also harped on the importance of honest declaration to seamless cargo release

Excerpt:

 


Q:In the last one year, how has the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria contributed to freight forwarders training capacity building, and deployment of POF for practitioners benefit?

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CRFFN is doing a whole lot.It is not visible now because a lot has to be done.Concerning the POF, it is a very big challenge to CRFFN and freight forwarders.

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Ezisi, NAGAFF President

The government has removed CRFFN from budgetary allocation.They are solely to live on POF collection and the collection is not going the way it is supposed to be.We still need to do a lot of sensitization to the freight forwarders concerning the POF .

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Talking about the training, it is still from the POF, CRFFN will raise money for the training of the freight forwarders.Be it as it may, POF is very important and CRFFN has to do a high level of sensitization to the freight forwarders and terminal operators for the effectiveness of the POF collection.

 

We have a lot of training programs.The last time the acting registrar of CRFFN visited our NAGAFF headquarters they made mention of the training and retraining.The problem is the funding and the fund will come from POF.If they don’t get POF right, it will affect so many activities that CRFFN has to do for freight forwarders.

 

Q:Will POF collection be able to sustain the council as major source of revenue?

Yes, it can , if it is properly done.The POF collection can fund the council if the collection is properly collected and judiciously utilised

Q:Give us an overview of NAGAFF position on Time Release Study.How soon or how fast do you anticipate that cargoes are cleared out of the Nigerian port system?

Time Release Study is a good innovation.NAGAFF has embraced Time Release Study because it is an international thing that speaks to global best practice.But in Nigeria, we are having some bottlenecks which need to be addressed.

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The government need to procure and deploy more scanners,discourage physical examination and have one stop point for cargo examination.

Valuation should have a standard way of getting value which is international standard and not giving people value arbitrarily .They should go by the international valuation practice.It is very feasible.If things take shape, within 48 hours, you can take your boxes out of the terminal.

I have a case study.Two weeks ago, I delivered 4 by 20 foot container within 72 hours at Apapa port. Which in my assessment,is fast.

Another thing that will help in achieving the Time Release Study is honest declaration.Honest declaration reduces human interface.Once your declarations are honest, you will be able to move on and defend your job.It helps the freight forwarders and makes the customs job seamless. This is about cargo integrity.

Q:To what extent has freight forwarders in Nigeria embraced tools of artificial intelligence, automation and other tech input for cargo clearance?

Freight forwarders have embraced the system because it is an international standard.In this present time, things are being automated.As far as I am concerned, NAGAFF doesn’t have issues over automated processing because it will make the job faster and will make it seamless but still, it is human factor that adversely affect that automated system.

 

By the time we remove these human factor barriers, reduce freight forwarders interfacing with Customs you won’t need to go to the port to release your goods.

 

The physical thing that needs to be done is scanning your container.It is when it is on suspect you will have to interface with officers on physical examination.

 

If it is non suspect, you don’t need to go there .Life is so delicate this time around and nobody wants to go through stress.The time that is to be spent going in and out of the port can be spent in the comfort of your office to achieve more.

 

Recently, I exported a container to a friend in London.He didn’t go to the port.He was in his office when the container was delivered to his warehouse in London.When the release was done, he sent mail to the trucking company that went directly , picked it up and delivered it to his warehouse.I am looking forward to that kind of operation in Nigeria and we will achieve it soon.

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Q:Customs has been doing a lot around it’s relationship with stakeholders in recent times. What are the immediate gains you forsee or have experienced under CGC Adewale Adeniyi?

 

 

Customs relationship with NAGAFF from inception has been very cordial because NAGAFF has a number of young freight forwarders and under my watch, I make sure I tutor them in the things they need to do and know in the industry.

 

For now, I count Adewale Adeniyi as a blessing to Nigeria Customs Service because a whole lot of things that have been forgotten over the years were resurrected by him ,like closely Interfacing with freight forwarders.

 

The other day we had the International Customs Day, CGC conference,here in Lagos.These things have never been done in such manner in recent times and this is the avenue where freight forwarders air their views and challenges.

 

From what the CGC did at the last CGC conference, issues were raised and right there and solutions were proferred with timelines.It is a top notch and I hail him for being a go getter.

 

 

Q:There is the burning issue of unfavorable exchange rate which in the view of many has adversely been affected trade.How best do you think government can address it? What is the future of our economy if it is not quickly reversed?

 

 

This is a very difficult situation we have found ourselves.The exchange rate is killing.I don’t know why the economic team choose to keep on increasing the exchange rate arbitrarily.

 

From what I was made to understand, they don’t want to leave so much gap between the black markets and the official exchange rate.When the black market goes up, they push up the exchange rate to close the gap.

 

I am not an economist but as a lay man, I don’t think that is the best way to go about it.You will be surprised to hear this. On Thursday, I had a duty of N79 million to be paid but because the Custom portal was having network issue , they couldn’t capture.By Friday, the exchange rate was moved from N988 to 1,356.As at Thursday, N79 million duty was to be paid but by Friday, when they have increased the exchange rate, I paid N141 million.That is a big difference.

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This thing goes into the market.The end users and consumers suffer for it through inflation.It is a situation I cannot understand and the bad side of it is that the common man is at the receiving ends .The end users and poor masses suffers it most.

 

I really want to call on the economic team to have a second look at this increment on exchange rate because it is not healthy for the economy at this challenging period

Q:For the year 2024, what is the thrust of your leadership for NAGAFF? 

 

 

NAGAFF is the largest body in the freight forwarding profession in Nigeria and as the National President of the largest association, I have a lot of work to do which I have been doing since I assumed office.

 

A whole lot of things have come on board.I worked on the NAGAFF academy and made sure that the students’ wellbeing is intact.I also ensured that freight forwarders go to the academy and learn the rudiments of the profession .

 

Freight forwarding today is not what it was yesterday.We must have the knowledge to remain in business .To get the knowledge , education and training are vital.

 

Presently, we have over 70 students in the academy.As the national president, my promise to the young freight forwarders which is the mindset and the original plan of the founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, is to train the young freight forwarders who will take over.It is also part of the NAGAFF manifestoes and I am following suit to make sure that freight forwarders are trained to know what they’re doing.

 

I will do my best and I am sure I am taking NAGAFF to another level from where I met it.It will keep growing until I get to the end of my tenure.



Ismail Aniemu

Ismail Aniemu, Publisher of JournalNG and ghost writer, is a maritime journalist of over two decades' of practice with multidisciplinary background. He holds a masters degree in Transport Management from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology(LAUTECH) with bias for logistics. He is also an alumnus of the Times Journalism Institute where he obtained a post graduate diploma in Journalism. Email: ismail.aniemu@aol.com

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