THE ZONING ARRANGEMENT BY CRFFN; A COMMENDABLE APPROACH— Barr. Michael Imonitie
RECENTLY, THE PRESTIGE BLENDED MAGAZINE ENGAGED THE SECRETARY, TINCAN ISLAND CHAPTER OF ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIAN LICENSED CUSTOMS AGENTS-ANLCA, AND MD/CEO, MIMOV GLOBAL VENTURES LTD., BARR.OVIEN MICHAEL IMONITIE, IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW IN HIS LAGOS OFFICE. HE SEIZED THE OPPORTUNITY TO AIR HIS VIEWS ON CRITICAL ISSUES BORDERING ON THE CRFFN ELECTION, THE PROCUREMENT OF NEW SCANNERS AND SHIPPING COMPANIES’ DELIBRATE DELAYS IN REFUND OF CONTAINER DEPOSIT AND MANY MORE.
ENJOY THE EXCERPT .
Sir, the CRFFN election, the politics and the intrigues , what is your take on the big issue?
It would have resulted to a big calamity if not for the wise and timely intervention of the Permanent Secretary of the Council. We watched with amazement the way the whole exercise was gradually degenerating into full blown protestations that would have spelled doom for the industry.
The Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria(CRFFN), has its provisions as regards election of officers. It is quite clear that people registered in the council according to the categories listed by the Agency. There is provision for Associations, Corporate bodies and individuals. And for the registered Associations to come up with plans to shortchange the other two categories is totally selfish and roundly unacceptable. Things should be done in the right ways. The idea of 6:6:1:1:1 is a concocted plan to shut out independent candidates and corporate bodies. How can the two foremost Associations arrogate six seats each to themselves even when they know that there are other Associations whose members are bonafide members of the CRFFN as well, does that mean you are telling them to go to blazes? That move was not in the general interest.
However, another wise decision made by the council is the allocation of five seats each to all the zones, honestly, it is a good one, it will create room for even representation and each zone is expected to come up with their best. It is a good one and l think the council will be better for it. The Zoning arrangement is a better approach to the election and should be renacted in subsequent Council elections.
Good a thing the race has been made open for all members of the Council, and that is the way forward. I give kudos to the Permanent Secretary of the council and those who finally arrived at that conclusion after the arguments and fairy wind that threatened the corporate existence of the council. I think it is all good that the storm is now calm and the Council can go ahead to conduct the election after perfecting its plans for a free and fair election. As it stands, independent candidates are now very free to contest and that makes the exercise very democratic, and we hope the council would be better for it.
QU: Clearing Agents are not comfortable with the delay of container deposit refund by Shipping Companies, what is your opinion on that?
It is indeed appalling the way some of these organisations treat Nigerians. Apart from PTML that has a well organized system that refunds agents their container deposit within few days , others take sometimes up to three to four months before they refund, knowing full well that those monies belong to business owners who would want to reinvest the monies in their businesses, l am baffled by the length of time taken by these companies to make refunds. And the painful thing about it is that they don’t want to make amends, probably because the Shipper’s Council is not saying anything about it, and the Associations are not taking actions to end the nonsense. These people have continued to do things with impunity, their excesses can no longer be curtailed and that is why agents will continue to face the challenges for a very long time. It is indeed unfortunate.
QU: Have you noticed some improvements lately in Ports operations especially at TinCan Command?
I think there are innovations , especially at the valuation unit, the vehicle information app that is in use presently is a good one. It will go a long way to plug revenue leakages, infractions are quickly dictated and it will make both Customs and clearing agents to be compliant. I think apart from that, there are other areas we can equally give kudos to Customs. I think they are really doing their best. But the part that calls for much worries is the multiple alart on consignments, it is really not encouraging , l urge the command to review some of the things that keep scaring importers and their agents away , people don’t need to channel their investment where they are threatened by the system on ground or where they could completely lose their capital for no good reasons.
QU: The procurement of new scanners has been commended by some stakeholders do you think it’s a good development?
Yeah, it is indeed a good development. We have been harping on the need for scanners in the ports. It will go a long way to facilitate trade. We can not be talking of Ease of Doing Business in the absence of functional scanners, it is a mission impossible. And l think the arrival of the new scanners will go a long way to facilitate Cargo clearing. Homogeneous goods will now be scanned while others go for physical examination, vehicles and some other items can also go through scanning. I think it is a very welcome development. But we must urge the Nigeria Customs to ensure periodic maintenance of the machines, there should be no form of sabotage, they must not fail to get it right this time.
What are the achievements of your executive so far at TinCan Chapter of ANLCA?
We are making progress, it has been a challenging task but we have progressed all the while. We have been engaging both Customs and agents from time to time on issues and developments bordering on Ports operations. You can see that the Secretariat is always inundated by clearing agents with one challenge or the other.
Today, (5th of October), we did welcome the Customs Inspection Team, they are here to carry out inspections on Customs Licensed Agencies so as to ascertain their statuses. It is not going a to be a day exercise, the TinCan Secretariat is going to serve as the venue for the excercise as long as it lasts. And we are going to give them maximum support and cooperation throughout the exercise. In other areas, l think we are doing very well to the glory of God.