Agents threaten to sue Customs, Web Fontaine over server failure

Hameed Ali

Hameed Ali, Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service.

 

Freight forwarders operating at the Lagos Ports have threatened to drag the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and its service provider; Webb Fontaine to court over incessant server failure.

The agents under the aegis of the Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Importers Exporters Coalition (SNFFIEC), said the incessant server failure has led to delays in cargo clearance and a weekly loss of over N50billion to importers.

Speaking to journalists in Apapa last weekend, Chairman of the group, Osita Chukwu, said, “The server issue has been a problem over the years in the maritime sector and nobody has addressed it. They addressed the matter in what you called a very low-key way, because if you want to address a matter and you fail to address it properly, that matter will never be addressed.

“The NCS is yet to rise up to this challenge that is being created by Webb Fontaine, the service provider contracted by the service. We have made a proposal to Customs to allow us to bring in somebody from the United States to address the server issue, but to no avail.

“And every time they keep telling us the server is down, so what happens to the demurrages that we the users are paying? Nobody talks about that. Whenever the issue of server failure concerns the shipping companies, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council will compel them to pay whatever demurrage that may have accrued and they always comply. But whenever it happens in Customs, they don’t care and agents are feeling so bad that nothing is being done to get to the logical conclusion of this matter.

“There is need for the government to take drastic steps and expedite actions in addressing the server failure issues holistically without fear or favour for anyone. The group has decided to wage war with Web Fontaine on the issue of server failure. Server may fail once or thrice in a year but not on a daily or weekly basis.

“I tell you, importers lose over N50 billion on a weekly basis nationwide. And we have decided to drag the NCS and Webb Fontaine to court over this issue and we are demanding N100 billion compensation for importers for some of our losses so far.”