Nigeria’s economy may have recorded about N640 million loss to the breakdown of the information technology system used by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, for cargo clearance at the ports.
The platform used by the Customs is operated by Webb Fontaine contracted by the Federal Ministry of Finance. Stakeholders have posited that the amount of money lost to such system failure is huge.
Speaking to Vanguard Maritime Report on the frequent breakdown of the platform, the National Chairman of the 100% Compliance Team of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, Ibrahim Tanko, said though it is difficult to say the exact figure, it runs into several hundreds of millions of naira daily.
Illustrating the above, Tanko said that there are three stages that goods pass through during clearance, noting that at the last stage an importer or his agent pays N6,000 for each extra day spent at the port as demurrage.
Similarly, he noted that for every extra day an engaged truck spends at the port, the owner of the cargo pays N26,000.
He also said if there are 10,000 boxes being cleared from both Apapa and Tin-can Island ports at the time of the breakdown that lasted for two days, multiplying N26,000 by two days and by 10,000 boxes gives one about N520 million.
As for the demurrage paid for the delay, Ibrahim said N6,000 multiplied by two days and by 10,000 boxes amounts to N120 million, giving a total loss of about N640 million for the two days.
He expressed worry that the federal government seems not to be aware of the huge waste of resources as a result of the constant system collapse, as a result; the Compliance Team have petitioned the minister of finance for action to be taken to address the pain that importers and their agents are subjected to.
The letter read in part, “Webb Fontaine system failure is outrageous. The network failure may last for more than four days at a stretch leaving us freight forwarders with a huge backlog of demurrage running into millions of naira.
“Imagine the quantum of losses incurred by thousands of containers trapped by the downtime at most of the ports and terminals. Even the banks cannot transmit information about duties collected on behalf of the federal government.
“Webb Fontaine was supposed to provide single-window solutions interconnecting all stakeholders involved in foreign trade allowing them to perform from pre-clearance to post-clearance.
“In addition, they were to speed up Customs and trade processes for both traders and government agencies. The interface occur generally in the breach, from the traders’ zone in the portal to the Customs zone could take days and interconnectivity is far from being realised,” he noted.
Tanko further noted that a visit to their head office in Media City, Dubai showed that unlike the lackluster service provide here, their services over there is world-class efficiency and seamless system.
He accused Webb Fontaine of deliberately operating outdated infrastructure and soft in Nigeria that has resulted in a huge financial loss for which they do not get refund or explanations.