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Weak regulations, others hobble courier sector

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The weak regulatory framework and rapid growth of the courier industry has given rise to bourgeoning illegal operators, leaving in their wake tales of losses and frustration.

Illegal courier companies are those that are not duly registered and are believed to outnumber the registered ones.

To practice courier business legitimately, an applicant is expected to fulfill certain conditions including the payment of one hundred million naira registration and licensing fee to the NIPOST.

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But instead of paying this sum and fulfilling other conditions, some people decide to cut corners and operate illegally.

To make matters worse, Courier Regulatory Department (CRD), the policeman of the industry is not sufficiently empowered to pursue the prosecution of illegal operators.

This is simply because the CRD, an arm of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), derives its powers from military decree 41 of 1992 now cap 127 of the Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004, which experts say is grossly inadequate for the exigencies of the courier industry.

At last count, the activities of unlicensed operators drain the country’s purse to the tune of N20 billion per annum, according to experts.

Illegal courier operators are also accused of aiding the ever increasing trend in the smuggling of small arms and light weapons, exposing the dangerous complexity of the illicit trade of the tools of violence in parts of the country.

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The scale of activities of the unregistered courier operators underscores the extremely lucrative nature of the illegitimate trade and the need for tighter regulation and protection of the industry.

Unlawful and as dangerous, their activities have led to price undercutting, reduced the confidence in courier operations, increased incidence of mail dumping, touting among other activities.

Investigations showed that the quack operators do not have any fixed address, thereby making it almost impossible to track them down.

The courier sector in Nigeria is one with great potentials, which if properly harnessed is capable of generating millions of jobs and contributing immensely to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

To make it contribute to the GDP and reach its potentials, government must quickly set up an independent regulatory authority for the industry.

The independent regulatory authority will help accelerate the pace of the growth of this sector, so that the sector can contribute to national development through job creation and tax revenue.

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