The Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria (AREFFN) has resolved to make the freight forwarding business a veritable and profitable venture for young Nigerian graduates as it seeks to attract a minimum of 1,000 graduates into the profession annually.
AREFFN National Secretary, Francis Obiekezie, who revealed this during a chat with journalists in Lagos on Wednesday, said “the aspiration of AREFFN is that we inject at least 1000 young graduates into this industry every year”
According to him, the association is considering establishling a link with National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Camp part of a catch-them-young campaign to get young professionals involved in the practice.
“We have found out there are lots of cross-border trading going on and these are things you cannot do when you are stark illiterate. These businesses were originally dominated by people who are not sufficiently trained and prepared for it. So it cannot be a last resort business for people in the future. Our aim is to make freight forwarding business a venture to be proud of in the near future.”
“Right now, we have done about two batches of different trainings by the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) in conjunction with Redeemers University at our Training Hall. We are about to start another batch for Higher National Diploma with freight forwarders,” Obiekezie stressed.
On issues of members leaving the association for one reason or the other, Obiekezie noted that the association has been having one crisis or the other leading members to be disgruntled.
“Just like in political parties some people come and some people go and in those days AREFFN was kind of turbulent and always fighting, our founding father, Dr. Frank Ukor was always in the news having one crisis or the other with either Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) officials or Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) and so on.”
“But at a point, we decided to re-strategize because we felt that the approach adopted would not take us to where we wanted to go and might defeat the purpose for which the association was created.”
“Today AREFFN has 2 members in the Governing Board of CRFFN after the 2022 CRFFN elections. There are only 3 associations surviving in that Council and AREFFN is one of them, we adopted an effective strategy because we are progressive,” he remarked.
He commended the AREFFN President, Alhaji Baba Daura Lawan for ensuring peace and stability in AREFFN since 2018, adding that since the current administration secured the current office in 2020, the group’s secretariat in Onne and Lagos have been transformed.
On challenges in cargo clearance, the AREFFN National Secretary said; “Some of the challenges we are facing on daily basis, include the roads leading to the ports which are congested. Containers have taken over a part of the road, the other part of the road has also been taken over by dumpsite with dirt everywhere along the axis”
“One of the factors we use in assessing the port everywhere in the world is good access road in and out. This is because the freight forwarding business, or job is not finished until goods get to the warehouse or the market.”
“Another challenge is the issue of Marine Police, the other time the new Minister of Marine and Blue Economy came he was complaining that there are about 6000 containers abandoned in the port and when you have such an amount of abandoned containers in the port, you ask yourself, what is the size of these two ports. That is why we talk of congestion and the high cost of loading and transportation of containers.”
The veteran freight forwarder lamented that Marine Police stop containers that have been cleared and released by the customs and other agencies, stressing that nobody is doing anything about it.