- Hails MAJAN’s advocacy initiative
By Ray Ugochukwu
Business-unfriendly policies of government have been identified as a major challenge to the growth and development of the nation’s maritime industry especially in the freight forwarding sub-sector of the economy.
National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA), Hon. Iju Tony Nwabunike, made this observation at the weekend when he spoke at the sectoral first quarter review forum of the Maritime Journalists Association of Nigeria (MAJAN).
He added that the problem had always pitched freight forwarders or customs brokers against their principals, the importers, as supposed expertise advice from agents was always truncated by unfriendly policies.
“One of the greatest challenges confronting freight forwarders or customs brokers is the issue of bad policies by government. Imagine a situation where a freight forwarder or customs broker who is supposed to know, advises his client that a particular item would remain tradable for at least the next five years. With this, the importer goes ahead to bring in the product and while it is on the way, a circular emanates from the Customs that that same item has been banned. This is the type of problem we encounter in this country”, he said.
The pioneer Chairman, Governing Board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) also pointed at the port access roads, which he described as worsening by the day, as another issue of concern. He maintained that the cost implication of the resultant congestion was unimaginable and blamed the situation on poor road design which was unsuitable for cargo delivery.
Another area of worry, according to him, was lack of infrastructures for cargo handling and delivery, even as he added that the attitude of people in government had worsened the situation. He regretted that most government officials did not believe in the administration, hence they usually acted in contradiction to the agenda of the regime.
Nwabunike also decried the effects of the use of obsolete laws in the country’s administration and management of international trade, citing the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) as an example. He saw such laws as very retrogressive and business-unfriendly.
Added to all these, he regretted, was the absence of government/stakeholders dialogue where issues of trade matters could be mutually sorted out, saying a situation “where policies are forced down the throat of stakeholders” was not good enough.
Again, the ANLCA boss lamented that over 60 per cent of their jobs had been taken over by foreigners especially the Chinese, who he alleged would engage Nigerians to execute the assignments at peanut.
He however, commended MAJAN for its advocacy stance in the industry and noted that if other journalists’ groups could emulate such initiative, the country’s maritime sector would be the better for it.
“Honestly, it’s not because I’m here; I want to commend and thank MAJAN for what it has been doing in the industry. Even though I’ve not been able to attend any of your programmes until today, I’ve always been following what you are doing. You guys are trying.
“This is the only way to keep both port users and service providers in check. And I want to challenge other associations to follow your footsteps so that together, we can grow this lucrative sector.
Other four guests participated in the programme meant to x-ray the performance of the sector in the first quarter of the year and the damning verdict at the forum was a below par rating for the period under review.