Posted By Godwin Onyemaechi
Freight forwarders under the aegis of the Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) have called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to wade into the issue of persistent server failure being experienced at the various commands of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
APFFLON in a statement signed by its President, Frank Ogunojemite, said the protracted server failure, which has lingered for a couple of weeks, has added to the hardships freight forwarders and importers are currently going through at the nation’s ports to clear their goods.
He said with the downtime of the Customs server for over a week, clearing agents and their importers have been trying so hard to stay in business coupled with the 90 per cent increase in Customs duty, which has brought the industry and by extension, the national economy to its knees.
Ogunojemite said this same problem occurred some time ago prompting mass protestations against Messrs Webb Fontaine as freight forwarders accused them of incompetence and called for revocation of their contract as the Nigeria Customs Internet Service Provider.
He said during that same period, the APFFLON threatened to file a lawsuit against the duo of Nigeria Customs Service and Messrs Webb Fontaine if nothing was done urgently to ameliorate the situation.
Ogunojemite urged the Federal Government to either sack the Customs Internet service provider, Webb Fontaine for gross incompetence and for jeopardising its policy on ease of doing business or urgently engage another service provider so as to bring to an end, the national embarrassment.
“For the overall interest of the nation, the presidency and the National Assembly should make haste to address this avoidable economic sabotage,” he said.
Ogunojemite lamented that despite the server breakdown, shipping companies and terminal operators will still insist on collecting their charges without considering the unfortunate situation.
He further called upon the Nigerian Shipper’s Council (NSC), Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to rise up and meet with relevant stakeholders and deliberate on this issue to forestall possible breakdown of law and order in the industry.
“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 pleads 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,” the statement reads