A prolonged breakdown of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) server for about six days has led freight forwarders into huge financial losses due to accumulated demurrage costs on cargoes at the SAPID 1 Bonded Terminal, Abulosun, Lagos.
The problem, which reportedly commenced on Tuesday last week, has been left unattended to by Customs and its IT provider, ‘Webb Fontaine’ despite queries by freight forwarders and the terminal operator since Wednesday.
Speaking to News Diet on the development, the Coordinator of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) 100% Compliance Team at SAPID 1 Bonded Terminal, Mr. Igbokwe Nzube Donatus, lamented that Customs has shown no inclination to speedily address the problem which has left fiscal burdens on freight forwarders and importers.
His words: “Freight forwarders have been lamenting and complaining about the inability to clear goods from SAPID 1 Bonded Terminal since Wednesday and the problem persisted until Friday. Who is going to pay for the demurrage costs at such a time when everyone is feeling the pangs of inflation with the fuel subsidy removal?”
“When I got the report initially, I discussed with the bonded terminal manager who clarified that the problem was from the Customs server and I also engaged the Deputy Controller of Customs at the bonded terminal who said that Webb Fontaine, which is the Customs IT consultant, assured that by the following Tuesday the problem would be resolved. We are hoping that things are sorted and normalcy is returned by Tuesday but this will definitely mean additional charges as demurrage”
According to him, the server breakdown has been a recurring issue witnessed by freight forwarders at the SAPID 1 Bonded Terminal, as the Customs had severally complained about a problem with the mast while Webb Fontaine officials attribute the challenge to another connection at Kirikiri Lighter Terminal (KLT).
“Customs formerly told us that the mast at the bonded terminal is faulty but Webb Fontaine have told us that there is nothing wrong with the mast at the bonded terminal. According to Webb Fontaine, the issue is linked to another connection at KLT. We really can’t tell who is telling the truth, but we can’t continue to suffer financial losses on account of a challenge caused by Customs and its IT provider, Webb Fontaine,” Igbokwe remarked.
While appealing to Customs to ensure a lasting solution is found to address the persistent server breakdown, the freight forwarder observed that the additional cost of delays will lead to demurrage charges which will reflect in the final prices of goods thereby causing inflation.
He, however, noted that Customs had taken some documents to the Apapa Command where the server is better and the bonded terminal agreed to work on Saturday and Monday to facilitate the clearance of some consignments.