The range of fees unveiled recently by the Nigerian Shippers Council for the registration of the various categories of maritime operators has been rejected by freight forwarders even after the levies were slashed by 50 percent.

The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), the main professional group for freight forwarders, says its members will not pay the registration fee demanded by the Council.

Noting that the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) Act empowers only CRFFN to regulate and collect registration fees from freight forwarders in the industry, the group insisted that the Council should rely on statutory allocations from the federal government.

In a defiant repudiation of the Council’s demand, the group vowed not to pay any levy for registration.

“The clearing agents’ registration fee initiated by the NSC negates the federal government’s policy on the Ease of Doing Business at ports,” ANLCA’s National Vice President, Dr. Collins Farinto, said.

This was contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos on Sunday.

“Meanwhile the CRFFN will soon commence collection of Practitioners Operating Fees (POF) and still expect freight forwarders to also pay their annual subscriptions fees.

“The question is what is the meaning of Registration Fees to be collected by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council,” Farinto said.

He said that the NSC was expected to protect the interest of Nigerian shippers and ensure that stakeholders were not given arbitrary and illegitimate charges.

Farinto said that ANLCA expected the NSC to address the hardship its members were going through in the industry.

The ANLCA chief, however, pleaded with the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello to intervene and direct his officers to discontinue the registration fees.

Bello had explained that the fees were one-off payment that would help the government in policy formulation and also rid the sector of quacks.

The NSC, had in February 27 announced a 50 per cent cut on the registration fees it recently introduced for operators in the maritime sector.

The NSC proposed the fees after consultations with relevant stakeholders.

The breakdown shows that shipping line agencies and seaport terminal operators would now pay N50,000 down from N100,000, while inland container depot operators would pay N25,000 instead of N50,000.

Warehouse operators, off dock terminal operators, stevedoring companies and cargo consolidators were expected to pay N10,000 instead of N20,000; while freight forwarders, clearing agents and haulage firms are to N5,000 instead of N10,000. Shippers associations’ fee was left at N5,000.