SERVER FAILURE: Freight Forwarders drag Web Fontaine to FG

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Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim, National Coordinator, NAGAFF 100% Compliance Team.

-Loses N193m Daily to Inefficiency of Service Provider

By Innocent Orok

Freight forwarders plying their trade at the Lagos ports have dragged Web Fontaine, an IT solution provider, to the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, over the incessant break down of Customs Server.

It should be noted that Web Fontaine is the Service Provider for Customs automation programme which drives the customs operations, especially its trade portal through which the trading public such as importers, freight forwarders interface with the Customs .

However, the server, which powers this trade portal, has experienced incessant system failure which has hobbled clearing procedures at the ports.

Unable to bear the delays and attendant cost implications occasioned by this breakdown, agitated freight forwarders, under the aegis of National Association of Government Approved Freight forwarders (NAGAFF), have cried out to the Finance minister for his quick intervention.

Ventilating the agony of the freight forwarders under this circumstance, Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim, the National coordinator of the 100% Compliance Team of NAGAFF, the anti- corruption arm of the association, in his letter to the minister, complained about the incalculable damage which the frequent server break down has caused freight forwarders in particular and the nation in general.

In the letter dated May 8th, 2024 and copied to relevant government and security agencies, Customs committees in the National Assembly,Tanko bemoaned the trade disruption and huge demurrage occasioned by the break down.

According to him, the freight forwarders incur daily loss of N192m through the payment of mounting demurrage brazenly charged by shipping companies and terminal operators.

“The Honorable sir, we as stakeholders and users of the customs servers are going through a lot in the hands of our teeming customers, shipping companies and terminal operators.

“This is so as the Terminal Operators charge the sum of N62,000.00 (Sixty two thousand naira) per day.

“The Shipping companies charge N58,000.00 (Fifty eight thousand naira) per day.

“For instance sir, we have an average of 1,600 containers trapped by the server failure in each of the ports of Apapa, TinCan, PTML and Kirikiri Lighter terminal respectively, with an estimated sum of #192,000,000(One hundred and ninety two million naira) being lost daily.

“Where this sum is multiplied with more than two thousand containers that are equally denied exit from off dock terminals, due to the server failure/breakdown, the consequential effect is better imagined than experienced.

” This had been a recurring decimal over time with the customs service provider, namely, WEB FONTAINE.
The agonized freight forwarders however advocated for review of the contract of the service provider in view of the frequent server break down.

“Sir, it is now being alleged that a new outfit or new service provider has been appointed to replace the WEB FONTAINE.

“If that is the case Honorable sir, we respectfully call for a total review of their contract for the circumstance and situation has degenerated to unbearable state.

“We are taken aback as to why such outfit that has over the time manifested gross incompetence is hired and allowed to oversee such critical infrastructure of the Nigeria customs service”

The petitioners called for urgent attention and intervention of the Minister in a bid to stave off brewing anger and crisis as agitated freight forwarders are already pushed to the wall and may react any time soon.

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