Over 1, 000 cargoes imported into the country have been trapped at Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports as Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Internet server experiences another round of downtime.

The Guardian learnt that the server, which was down on Monday, has created discomfort among clearing agents operating at the ports causing delays since Monday, as they claim revenues have been lost due to the cargo delays at the ports.

Customs’ server breakdown has become more frequent of late and has become a major bottleneck in cargo clearance at the ports in Lagos. The service provider, Webb Fontaine, has been blamed for inefficiency, as operators noted that server downtime has reportedly made the capture of information and release of cargoes a herculean task for two days.

Since the downtime of Customs’ server hampers trade facilitation by causing delay, and in turn, compels importers to pay millions of Naira as demurrage to shipping companies, and storage to terminal operators, clearing agents have consistently called on the Federal Government to replace the service provider.

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Reacting to the situation, the Public Relations Officer, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tin-Can Chapter, Onome Omije, confirmed the development.

According to her, importers are accumulating demurrage and storage charges on their consignments, adding that the frequent server breakdown is one of the causes of port congestion.

“We have been idle since Monday. We can’t do any jobs because Customs cannot release any job. There is no server to log on to for the job to be released.

“With no service today, consignments that are supposed to be delivered today will not be delivered and we will have to start paying demurrage. The money that is supposed to be used for another job will still be used for the trapped jobs,” she stated.

Also speaking on the server breakdown, the Coordinator of the Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders Importers and Exporters Coalition (SNFFIEC), Osita Chukwu, said the server downtime has been consistent in recent days.

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He, called on the government to withdraw the contract from Webb Fontaine, saying they are not capable.

“This is what we have been saying. This is not the first time we are experiencing server failure, and I won’t blame the handlers but I blame the federal government and the state government that gave them the contract. Of course, they are not capable of handling this contract, and the loss we bear is huge; I can’t quantify it. This is what cannot happen in other climes because they will have to pay for the loss. It’s a pity we find ourselves in this mess and the government should be blamed,” he said.