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Clearing Agents Decry Frequent Customs Server Breakdown

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Clearing agents operating at the Lagos ports have dragged IT solution provider, Web Fontaine, to the minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, over the incessant break down of Customs server.

LEADERSHIP reports that Web Fontaine is the service provider for Customs automation programme which drives the Customs operations. However, the server, which powers this trade portal, has experienced incessant system failure which has hobbled clearing procedures at the ports.

However, unable to bear the delays and attendant cost implications occasioned by this breakdown, agitated freight forwarders, under the aegis of National Association of Government Approved Freight forwarders (NAGAFF), have cried out to the Finance minister for quick intervention.

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The national coordinator, 100 per cent compliance team of NAGAFF, the anti- corruption arm of the association, Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim, in a letter to the minister, complained about demurrage which the frequent server break down has caused freight forwarders.

In the letter dated May 8th, 2024 and copied to relevant government and security agencies, Customs committees in the national Assembly, Tanko bemoaned the trade disruption and huge demurrage occasioned by the breakdown.

According to him, the freight forwarders incurred a daily loss of N192 million through the payment of demurrages to shipping companies and storage to terminal operators.

“Sir, we as stakeholders and users of the customs servers are going through a lot in the hands of our teeming customers, shipping companies and terminal operators. This is so as the terminal Operators charge the sum of N62,000 per day.

“The Shipping companies charge N58,000 per day. For instance sir, we have an average of 1,600 containers trapped by the server failure in each of the ports of Apapa, Tin-Can, PTML and Kirikiri Lighter terminal respectively, with an estimated sum of N192 million being lost daily.

“Where this sum is multiplied with more than two thousand containers that are equally denied exit from off dock terminals, due to the server failure/breakdown, the consequential effect is better imagined than experienced. This had been a recurring decimal over time with the customs service provider, namely, Web Fontaine,” he stated.

The clearing agents, however, advocated for review of the contract of the service provider in view of the frequent server break down.

“Sir, it is now being alleged that a new outfit or new service provider has been appointed to replace the WEB FONTAINE. If that is the case sir, we respectfully call for a total review of their contract for the circumstance and situation has degenerated to unbearable state.

 

“We are taken aback as to why such an outfit that has over the time manifested gross incompetence is hired and allowed to oversee such critical infrastructure of the Nigeria customs service.”

 

The petitioners called for urgent attention and intervention of the minister in a bid to stave off brewing anger and crisis as clearing agents are already pushed to the wall and may react any time soon.


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