- FG should demand compensation from Webb Fontaine – Ogunojemite
Webb Fontaine, IT Service providers for Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), is having its earnings from the Nigerian government of over $250million under investigation by the Senate Committee on Customs over persistent server breakdowns, a move that has elicited excitement among freight forwarders.
Freight agents have also called on the federal government to demand compensation from Customs IT service provider over poor services leading to loss of revenue by importers and freight forwarders even as the government losses earnings collected by Customs.
This is coming on the heels of the National Assembly directing the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to suspend payment of outstanding fund for Webb Fontaine’s services until investigations on the company’s activities from 2006 to 2022 is completed.
Speaking with the News Diet during an exclusive chat today, the National President of Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), Otunba Frank Ogunojemite called for a compensation from the I.T company over poor services for decades.
While commending the Senate Committee for the ongoing investigations on the services of Webb Fontaine since its contract commenced in 2006, he lamented that the importers and freight forwarders have lost colossal sums from server breakdowns which have characterized Webb Fontaine’s service since inception.
His words: “We can’t quantify the monetary loss that Webb Fontaine’s epileptic services has cost freight agents and importers because of the server downtime which leads to more charges as storage at the terminals. Customs and the federal government also loses revenue because the downtime means payments can’t be made for hours and most times for days. I would say that this is a deliberate action by Webb Fontaine to sabotage Nigeria’s economy because the company runs the same system effectively in other nations.”
“The widespread reports of network failure, also known as downtime, which sometimes lasts for more than 4 days had been a regular occurrence, leaving freight forwarders with humongous backlog of demurrage, thereby trapping thousands of containers in the process. In times like these freight forwarders are rendered helpless and even banks are unable to transmit information about duties collected on behalf of the Federal Government”
The veteran freight forwarder added that Nigerians have been lamenting about their losses as Webb Fontaine bears no responsibility, no apologies, and no explanations despite being the cause of the poor and epileptic services.
Worried that the management/operations of the company in delivering the services is still shrouded in secrecy and is not visible to the Nigeria Customs Service; the Senate Committee on Customs recently urged the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria to put a stop to the payment of outstanding fund for Webb Fontaine until after investigations of its activities from 2006 to 2022 is completed.
The Senate Committee also mandated the Committee on Customs and Excise to invite the Minister of Finance, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Chairman/Managing Director of the Webb Fontaine Limited, to shed more light on the Service Level Agreement with the company, and report within 4 weeks.