Freight Forwarders operating at the Lagos ports have advised the Nigeria Customs Service to own its license to enable it have a Global System Mobile for Communication (GSM) network rather than rely on the services of Web Fointaine- the service provider currently managing the customs server.
The agents made the call against the backdrop of the frequent customs server breakdown, a situation they said has made them incur more demurrage from shipping companies and delay in cargo clearance.
Speaking with SHIPS& PORTS DAILY in Lagos last Thursday, Former Chairman National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Port and Terminal Multi Services Limited (PTML) chapter, Ugochukwu Nnadi said unless Customs acquire its own GSM network and train officers to manage it, the epileptic network failure may persist.
He said that the NCS as a government agency has the capacity to provide the required network for its server to function effectively noting that the moves by Web Fointaine to dump MTN for another GSM network provider may not get any better but worsen the situation.
“Customs as an agency is big enough to own its license for global system for mobile communication so that they don’t have to rely on MTN or GLOBALCOM because even the services of MTN they are relying on are epileptic. I heard that web Fointane want to ditch MTN. But why would they have to depend on somebody. Customs can pay for their own license, get their license and even role out GSM numbers and collect revenue from there and this issue of server failure will be reduced”
He added” The network of all the GSM operators are overloaded but they are more interested in the money they collect than the services they rendered. So as long as they are still depending on these GSM service providers for their services, it will continue”
Nnadi, a seasoned freight forwarder noted that the situation has become a daily occurrence with the server coming up only for 2 hours in a day.
“As we are talking now, it’s off and on and demurrages are being paid. I have paid not less than N300 thousand between last week and this week and the importer will tell you that I gave you my bill lading before the ship arrive so there is no need telling me about demurrage”
On his part, Customs Relation Officer (NAGAFF) Tin Can chapter, Comrade Nwokeforo Obinna said despite complaints of the high cost of demurrage agents incur as a result of the server failure, customs still issues the exact duty payable on a consignment even on days when the server is completely down.
He suggested that the customs liaise with shipping companies to grant them demurrage waivers any time there is a server failure.
“Any time the server is down, let there be waiver. The shipping companies can’t give you waiver because they are not the cause of the server failure, its customs issue so there should be an understanding between customs and the shipping company so that each time they wasted our time, they will give us waiver on those days” , he said.