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Freight Monitor

VIN crisis deepens as irate Customs brokers ground port activities

Eyewitness reporter
Activities at the Tin Can Island Port and  Port and Terminal Multi-Services Limited (PTML) were paralyzed on Monday by irate Customs brokers who were protesting the implementation of the controversial VIN  valuation policy.
The protest, which led to the shutdown of the two seaports, was sequel to the expiration of the 72- hour strike notice issued by all registered freight forwarding associations operating at the PTML Terminal and Tin Can Island port which have dedicated facilities for vehicle imports.
The agitating freight forwarders alleged that the value being issued on imported vehicles has risen by almost 300 percent, which they complained was too exorbitant and unbearable.
The clearing agents said despite their appeal to the Customs management to address the issue, cars are stranded at various port terminals due to the failure of the new customs valuation system to generate accurate value payable on imported cars.
They complained that there was no consideration for rebate and depreciation value in the current valuation issued on imported cars.
 The protesting brokers accused the Comptroller General of Customs, Col Hammed Ali(rtd) of insensitivity, claiming he had refused to acknowledge the protest letter sent to him since last week.
They said the efforts of the Customs Area Comptroller of PTML Command, Festus Okun, to douse the tension was not enough to stop the open demonstration of anger by the clearing agents.
The protesting agents said though they are not against the introduction of the VIN Valuation which they view as a noble concept that would end corruption in the system of vehicle clearance, they however believed that customs failed to carry out due diligence before implementation of the policy.
They claimed the value being issued to be paid on imported vehicles has risen by almost 300 percent which they said would affect the end-users as the prices of vehicles will skyrocket.
 According to them, the new valuation system, VIN, will, for instance, push the price of the Toyota Camry, which sells for N1.5million, to N5million.
Meanwhile, at the Tin Can Port, one of the freight associations, the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents  (NCMDLCA), has written to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) informing it of the planned protest.
However, the NPA  has offered to mediate in the matter as the port landlord in a bid to resolve the differences between the Customs and its brokers.
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Freight Monitor

My comments on anti-trade practices of some freight forwarders misconstrued—-Tanko

Tanko Ibrahim
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Freight Monitor

CRFFN member tackles Tanko over claims that freight forwarders are corrupt

Princess Chi Ezeh, NAGAFF Chieftain
—- says claims are false, blackmail, self-serving
Eyewitness reporter
Two frontline members of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and incidentally members of the fourth governing board of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN), Princess Chi Ezeh and Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko, have disagreed over the conduct and professional integrity of freight Nigerian forwarders.
While Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko believed that freight forwarders, of which he is one of their stocks, are corrupt and wilfully connive with Customs officers to circumvent the new Vehicles Identification Number (VIN) valuation policy in order to cheat the federal government of its revenue, Princess Chi Ezeh holds contrary views, saying freight forwarding is an ethical profession which is an integral part of value chains in the transport industry.
Recall that Alhaji Ibrahim Tanko had declared that freight forwarders evade customs duties with the collaboration of corrupt customs officers through the manipulation of the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR), stating that “most freight forwarders have started cutting corners by conniving with valuation officers and releasing officers to get the ex-factory price as value payable on used vehicles.”
Princess Ezeh, the only female member on the fourth governing board of the CRFFN,  however, took a swipe at Alhaji Tanko, the National Coordinator of NAGAFF’s Compliance team, over his comments, saying they were self-serving, meant to gain cheap publicity and blackmail government agencies.
She said that the fourth CRFFN board, of which the two contending NAGAFF members are part, is concerned about effectively regulating freight forwarding in a bid to stop the practice of using false statements to gain popularity or blackmail government agencies.
“In my professional opinion, condemning freight forwarders because of PAAR is wrong because PAAR isn’t the final document for clearing cargoes.
“It is advisory as the cargoes and the accompanying declarations are further subjected to either physical or documentary checks at the ports.
“CRFFN is concerned about correcting this wrong perception about freight forwarders,” she said.

According to Chi Ezeh, PAAR as it is, is a function of valuation principles based on general agreement on Trade and Tariffs, quality and quantity of the items, and even the application of rules of origin.

She condemned what she described as the de-marketing efforts of Alhaji Tanko which she believed negatively affect the image of the freight forwarding profession in particular and the maritime industry in general in the eye of the international community.
She also condemned the act that she described as unpatriotic and capable of undermining  Nigeria’s Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).

Chi Ezeh further disclosed that the industry practitioners are professionals for whom such a blanket label of unethical conduct is not only false but unpatriotic.

She said the cargo clearing system is a chain involving many agencies, all of whom ensure that best practices are applied in cargo handling towards Customs revenue generation and national security.

Chi Ezeh who is also the Vice President in-charge of seaports at the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), stressed that every ex-factory price given in valuation is always approved by the Customs Area Controller while the physical examination is conducted for vehicle declarations by Customs and all other approved government agencies in the ports.

She posited that it is not possible for all the agencies involved in cargo clearance to standby and allow the false allegations raised in the publication.

“Freight forwarding is an ethical profession where the practitioners have high-level integrity.

“Like the profession of doctors, accountants, lawyers, among others; there are ethics, principles, and standards.
“I totally disagree with the insinuation that all freight forwarders are corrupt.
“We are an integral part of the national economy who contribute greatly to the economic and physical security of the nation through the huge revenue profile announced by customs annually.”

“The truth is that these cargoes are being examined. So, does this mean that everyone in the entire supply chain is corrupt?

“If Customs is being accused of corruption in connivance with freight forwarders, how about the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and other agencies because examination of cargoes isn’t done by Customs alone.
“So, this accusation is wrong and demarkets freight forwarding as well as the entire players in the industry,” Chi Ezeh said.

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Freight Monitor

Stakeholder calls out Amaechi to account for millions of Naira in remittances made by freight forwarders under CRFFN.

Segun Musa
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