Whereas a freight forwarder is a person engaged in the total logistics chain of shipping, cargo handling, import/ export, documentation, haulage, warehousing, customs brokerage and door to door delivery services.
The clearing agent is a customs broker limited as the name “clearing agent” implies to just one arm of the freight forwarding business to the clearing of container or cargo out of the port.
To that extent, the clearing agent cannot present himself as a freight forwarder anywhere neither will he compete favourably with a freight forwarder who is trained to meet the global standard of practice set by FIIATA because he lacks the prerequisite knowledge, training and capacity to parade himself as such nor to act in the capacity of a professional freight forwarder.
The word or acronym “clearing agent’ is subsumed in the name freight forwarder, because it represents but a minute factor in the total logistics chain of freight forwarding. The word ” clearing agent ” is a misnomer and or rather derogatory whenever it is used to refer to professional freight forwarders.
Permit to digress further on this point; The Association of Nigerian Customs Licensed Agents(ANLCA) which was established in 1954 to carry out customs brokerage and or to act as a middle man between the importer of goods and customs in revenue collection but failed in the areas of the global standard practice set by FIIATA for professionalism.
To that extent, Anlca is limited by its customs license to act in the capacity of a professional freight forwarder. It gives me concern when I see them double as freight forwarders but the big question here is;
What is CRFFN doing to correct this anomaly?
If we go by FIATA rules of freight forwarding practice globally, a licensed agent will not be allowed to double or parade himself as a freight forwarder. CRFFN as a regulatory body of freight forwarding in Nigeria should take total control of companies and individuals registered under it as professional freight forwarders and then do away with customs licences because it is not under customs control neither is the customs under it.
Both of them are government agencies established by acts of parliament. Therefore it is wrong for professionals freight forwarders registered under CRFFN to go through one customs licence to access the ports.
Having said that, I think the freight forwarders under NAGAFF umbrella has a duty to perform by ensuring that the name ANLCA does not exist on the platform of CRFFN because until that is done ANLCA will continue to see herself as fellows with powers to compete and pose a threat to NAGAFF.
CRFFN should be made to understand that until the customs licences are done away with, the industry will continue to accommodate quarks and will never be fully professionalised. I hope our members will continue to make a case on this until Crffn lives up to its statutory obligations by empowering the freight forwarders to use their pin in processing jobs and making input in revenue collection cum generation for the government.
Our CRFFN board members, NAGAFF high command and all our members must continue to make serious case until customs licences are thrown out of CRFFN portal otherwise ANLCA will continue to beat her chest in controlling us via the licenses. I rest my case for now.
Written by: Evangelist C.C Iwegbuna (Omenma Ogidi) National Sec. Western Zone, NAGAFF.