By Steve Agbota
The African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) has advised the Federal Government to suspend any new renewal contracts with Webb Fontaine, the official technology partner of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), as the contracts expire. in December 2022.
Webb Fontaine is the Customs Digital Platforms Manager responsible for the provision of IT and Telecommunications infrastructure for Nigeria and encompasses the provision of the Customs Management System nationwide through the Nigeria Customs Integrated System (NICIS II) .
In a petition to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, APFFLON President, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite claimed that Webb Fontaine’s inefficiencies have resulted in constant server outages at seaports across the country, which is a huge loss. economical for citizens and government.
According to him, Nigerian importers, freight forwarders and the entire shipping industry in the country would have a breath of fresh air without Webb Fontaine as the company’s services have been an economic sabotage to the nation.
Ogunojemite added that the company’s 16 years of running the Customs Portal has been characterized by constant server outages, indicating either blatant inefficiency or a lackadaisical work culture on the part of the organization.
“Since 2006, when the company launched its Customs Technical Assistance Service, Nigerian importers have suffered colossal tax losses due to downtime at all ports and terminals in the country. This extra cost causes the prices of imported goods to rise (inflation), impoverishing Nigerians while the business suffers no loss. “Over the years, there has been no outreach or stakeholder engagement by Webb Fontaine on its operations and difficulties, leaving aggrieved port users to blame customs officials and NCS management for all server outages” , he added.
He suggested that Webb Fontaine does not have help desks or contact offices at ports and terminals, but rather the company’s station offices at prime locations in cities while its services are intended for ports and terminals.
“Amidst the many challenges to the Nigerian port system attributable to the company, the findings showed that the Dubai-based company operates a seamless and seamless process in Dubai, but subjects Nigerians to gross inefficiencies.
“Webb Fontaine was supposed to provide a one-stop-shop solution connecting all players involved in foreign trade enabling them to perform pre-clearance to post-clearance activities, but 16 years later the company has not reached its goal,” he said.
He also questioned the relevance of Webb Fontaine as the federally approved e-Customs project provides full automation of customs processes and services.
“We suggest that if the e-Customs project needs time to settle, the contract awarded to Webb Fontaine should be unbundled and awarded to three or more companies for competitive bidding,” he said.