A recurring server failure at Nigeria’s major ports has become costly for the port operators. It is estimated that importers and freight forwarders have paid over $485 million in the past two weeks, as demurrage charges to terminal operators and shipping lines.
In an interview with The Guardian, the National President of Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics Nigeria, Otumba Frank Ogunojemite, complained that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) servers have been experiencing downtime for the last two weeks. As a result, slow customs operations are inconveniencing cargo clearance at the port’s terminals. “Looking at the number of vessels that arrive and multiplying it by the number of containers in the vessels, which is about 2,000, you discover we have paid over N200billion ($485million) in just two weeks of the server malfunction,” said Ogunojemite.
Dr. Bolaji Akinola, the spokesperson of Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), said that lack of scanners and overly manual processes make the NCS the greatest obstacle to trade facilitation in the country and a barrier to the ease of doing business at the ports. Akinola suggested it is time for NCS to upgrade servers and other digital platforms, as failure to invest in modern information technology affected ports operations. It also hinders customs tax collection, constituting capital flight for the country.