Importers Pay Huge Demurrage As Wind Destroys Customs Server    

There is palpable fear of congestion at Nigerian ports as the transmission servers of the Nigeria Customs Service has been destroyed by windstorm, even as several cargoes have now been trapped at the port awaiting clearance procedures. 

Shipping Position Daily gathered that the server was affected last week Friday by windstorm and it has failed to come up since. The development has however caused sleepless nights for some Customs Area Controllers, even as some officers were said to be sleeping in their offices in order to find alternative ways to release cargoes.

Importers are by this server failures, expected to pay terminal operators N12, 600 per day for every 40ft container inside the port, while N8,400 is collected on every 20ft container

At a press briefing in Tin Can Customs command on Tuesday, the area controller, Musa Baba Abdullahi had hinted journalists of the server problems. He however said that the issues have been resolved.

He had said, "We woke up and had some issues with the rain, our radio was knocked down and we are running up and down to make sure that it is resolved, I am happy to inform you that it is up and running now". 

But contrary to the Controller’s claim, findings by Shipping Position Daily yesterday revealed that the server is yet to be running. 

One of the freight forwarders at PTML terminal who is Chairman of International Freight Forwarders Association (IFFA) Sunny Nnebe confirmed to our correspondent that the server was destroyed by wind on Friday last week. 

He said the "PTML server just started working today (yesterday) and the importers and their agents are at the receiving end, the shipping companies and terminal operators are smiling home with their money, they are not concerned about whether the server falls or not, they are busy charging their demurrage and we are paying" 

"We must find a way and bringing them also into it so that when such things happen, all of us will bear it together, they have to concession some of the days, the server has been down for five days since Friday". 

Nnebe confirmed that before the wind destroyed the server base, the customs have been having transmission issues from its headquarters in Abuja and this has affected its revenue generating commands. 

Another freight forwarder who pleaded anonymity told our correspondent that the government has not really done well on improving the customs server over the years.

Currently, the customs server is being managed by a service provider; Webfontane.

The freight forwarder stressed the need to bring in the service providers on a round table so as to stop charging importers as soon as such failures occur.

"At Mile 2 yesterday, the DC and other officers had to close around 8pm, they were waiting for the server to work so that they can work. The CAC at PTML left office after seven because he wanted to see things working. When the server is not working, it renders everything useless" he said.