The President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Edward Akrong, has urged the trading public to trust the services of freight forwarders to not only broker Customs clearance of goods, but also provide just in time end-to-end delivery of goods and services internationally.
“We are able to do that because we are networked. You do not only have to travel all the way to Kazakhstan because you need a part or two for a factory or production. You can contact your freight forwarder to handle all of that for you more efficiently,” he said.
Speaking with Eye on Port about ‘Consolidating the Role of the Freight Forwarder in Modern Port Operations’, he emphasised that the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders is a professional body with well-trained members having all the requisite skills needed to adequately perform Customs house brokerage and other freight forwarding functions.
“What we do is a lot more intense than just the Customs house agency bit. As freight forwarders, we do a lot more. That is why we have the academy, to train our members.”
The president of GIFF hinted that the growing public concern over miscreants within the freight forwarding fraternity is slightly overrated; and described professional misbehaviour as being common in all human institutions and not restricted to his outfit alone.
“It’s a human society, and so we are bound to have miscreants in any situation. So, you cannot restrict it to us because of maybe one or two things that you hear,” he argued.
However, he urged the public to deal with legitimate members of his association by scrutinising and ensuring that they are registered and in good standing with GIFF.
“If you want to do business with anybody, please do the due diligence and make sure that this is a properly licenced Customs house agent who belongs to a recognisable association. Locate his office and be sure you can deal with him properly. Do not go dishing out money to any stranger,” he cautioned.
He revealed that they have collaborated with Customs to have all recognised Customs house agents in a database to help importers verify them.
“So we have everything in there – from your IDs, educational standards; everything has been logged in the Customs management systems. This is to ensure that at the touch of a button any Customs officer will realise the particular company you work for,” he explained.
Importers to self-declare?
Answering the question whether it is about time importers and exporters clear goods by themselves, the GIFF president said individuals are open to clearing goods themselves – but warned that the freight forwarding job is complex and the agent is necessary for trade facilitation.
“The law allows anyone to apply to be self-declarant. But they have to patronise us. The things we have to go through to get your work done are complex. They are difficult to understand; you have to have the domain expertise.”
Amalgamation of Freight Forwarding Associations
Mr. Akrong said that the Committee of Freight Forwarding Associations is hoping to have a legislative instrument to enable transforming the committee into a formal establishment.
He said the amalgamation of Freight Forwarding Associations is intended to bring a more comprehensive approach to dealing with issues which affect the freight forwarding industry.