FG looks elsewhere as illegal courier operators plunder the economy

Illegal courier operators exploiting the weak regulatory framework in the industry together with absence of stiff punishment for offenders have continued to thrive in the country leaving in their wake tales of losses and frustration on the industry.

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

Reliable estimates are hard to come by but it is believed that these illegal operators rake as much as N50 billion annually from their nefarious activities.

Besides the monetary losses, illegal operators are known to be engaged in a lot of sharp practices including price under cutting, dumping of mails and are major conduits for drug barons.

The mailing industry provides a vital infrastructure upon which businesses depend for critical communication and distribution services and looking at the class of companies and clients that patronize the sector, courier business is a serious business that needs only professionals to operate.

Beyond the routine raids on the operational bases and arrests of some illegal operators, Courier Regulatory Department (CRD), the policeman of the industry is not sufficiently empowered to pursue the prosecution of offenders.

CRD, an arm of the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), a mere watchdog 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.

By the nature of its creation, CRD was supposed to have its operations in all the nooks and crannies of the country but its activities have been limited to few cities because of budgetary constraints.

To stem this tide, the federal government must as a matter of urgency establish a commission for the industry.

The commission should be charged with bringing the entire courier industry under a regulatory regime similar to the one for the telecom sector.

The commission should also make firms operating in the space to contribute to a Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to enable delivery of postal services to financially unviable areas at affordable rates.

Importantly, the regulator should set eligibility criteria for those wanting to enter the sector in the new regulated regime.

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