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Importers, agents clamour for sack of Webb Fontaines as Customs’ server breakdown worsens.

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Abiola seun

Importers have incurred huge demurrage and storage charges running into several millions of naira as several cargoes are trapped at the Lagos seaports over recurring server failures of the Nigeria Customs Service.

The server failure has made importers attract cargo clearance at the Apapa and Tin-Can Island seaports, stalled and hindered licensed agents and importers from clearing their cargoes from the port thereby attracting huge demurrage charges from shipping companies and storage charges from terminal operators.

This development has led to mounting calls for the sack of customs service providers; Messrs Webb Fontaine for alleged incompetence and delaying genuine trade at the Nigerian ports.

Speaking to journalists over the weekend,  Cordinator of Apapa Chapter of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Comrade Frank Aliakor stated that the server failures peaked recently and that for three days in a week, the service was down and no transactions could be done.

“There has been fluctuations in the server, Webb Fontaine has been enjoying monopoly, there is no other competitor or service provider, and this problem of server failure is hampering trade and causing delay, the clearing agents and importers are paying demurrages, this is not supposed to be so”

“We expect the server system to work 24hours so that trade would be facilitated.

“Sometimes, we discover that even at the Customs Processing Centre (CPC) the server is not working, also at the terminals and bonded terminals, it is not working, so what do we do?

“Sometimes, the downtime is up to five hours and the officers would seat down doing nothing, sometimes, for a whole day, officers would seat down doing nothing

“Webfontane needs to upgrade their systems, without this nothing can be done, if they fail to do this, there are other companies who want to come into the business and do it better, nobody is above the law, it shouldn’t be a monopoly” Comrade Aliakor stated

The ANLCA Task Force Chairman in Apapa lamented that at the end of the day, nobody is compensating the agents or the importers for the several hours of delays and accrued demurrages from shipping companies and terminal operators.

Speaking, he said, “This week (Last week), we have experienced server failures, even right now as I speak with you, since Tuesday, Wednesday and today Thursday”

At the Tin Can Island Port, the trend has also been the same as clearing agents raised alarm of several hours of delay and no work.

Vice Chairman of ANLCA, Tin Can Chapter, Chief Mike Okolichi said stakeholders have been experiencing a downtime in their operations due to the server failures.

Public relations officer of the chapter, Alhaji Idowu Owoade also confirmed the situation to our correspondent.

He said “The server is fluctuating, I have a job that was to be released, but we could not get it released because of server failures from the customs ”

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