Several cargoes are currently trapped at Apapa and Tin-Can Island Port over break down of Customs servers.
The server break down has, however, made importers and clearing agents incur accrued storage and demurrage charges from terminal operators and shipping companies worth several millions of naira.
Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), in a statement, yesterday, decried the breakdown of the sever and its attendant revenue loss to the federal government and clearing agents.
APFFLON national president, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, said importers and clearing agents have accrued huge storage and demmurage charges from terminal operators and shipping companies over the server breakdown since last week.
He said: “I, hereby, wish to draw the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly and that of the general public to protracted server failure being experienced in various commands of the Nigeria Customs Service.
“This problem which has lingered for a couple of weeks now has added to the hardships freight forwarders and their importers are currently going through. Recall that this same problem occured some time ago prompting mass protestations against Messrs Webb Fountain as freight forwarders accused them of incompetence and called for revocation of their contract as the Nigeria Customs Internet Service Provider.
“During that same period, APFFLON threatened to file a lawsuit against the duo of Nigeria Customs Service and Messrs Webb Fountain if nothing was done urgently to ameliorate the situation.”
“Today, with the total shutdown of Customs server for over a week now, clearing agents and their importers have been trying so hard to stay in business coupled with the 90% increase in Customs duty which has brought the industry and by extension, the national economy to its knees.”
Ogunojemite, however, raised the alarm over huge demurrage accrued due to the server breakdown, thereby, calling on terminal operators and shipping companies to waive the accrued charges.
“The most worrisome part of it is that Shipping companies and terminal operators will still insist on collecting their charges to the last kobo without considering the unfortunate situation.
“It’s high time we called upon the executive secretary of Nigerian Shipper’s Council (NSC), Chairman, CRFFN and Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to rise up and let’s address this unpalatable situation. And we continue to ask, why is such case perculia to Nigeria, why ? Stakeholders must come together to address this issue once and for all as we suggest that the Federal Government engages another internet service provider to backup Messrs Webb Fountain to guarantee consistency.
“As a matter of urgency, APFFLON is calling upon the Chairman, Governing Board of Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria -CRFFN, Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni, to meet with relevant stakeholders and deliberate on this issue so as to forestall possible breakdown of law and order in the industry. Enough is enough, we can’t continue folding our hands while Messrs Webb Fountain keep sabotaging our national economy, something urgent needs to be done.
“We, hereby, appeal to all the associations in this very profession to officially notify shipping Companies and terminal operators of the appalling situation therein appealing for waiver for all members. APFFLON is using this opportunity to plead to all shipping companies and terminal owners to look into the current situation and use their good offices to grant waivers to importers and their agents so as to reduce the heavy financial burden being hauled on them due to Customs server breakdown.”