Nigerian importers operating in all ports in Lagos are facing a tough time in clearing their consignments via the new Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) clearing platform, created to facilitate trade.
The new IT platform introduced to aid smooth clearance of cargo at the various port terminals has been given the Service sleepless nights before it was further wrecked by windstorm few days ago.
The platform, called Nigeria Customs Integrated System (NCIS)II is an improvement on earlier automation processes such as Automate System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), ASYCUDA 2.3, ASYCUDA 2.7,ASYCUDA ++, and NICIS I, which is a software specially created to enhance seamless cargo clearance.
Under ASYCUDA, agents could only make five declarations in one hour, but under the NICIS II, they can make up to 18 declarations within an hour.
Also, under NICIS I, customs agents could view what other control agencies such as National Agency For Food And Drug Administration And Control (NAFDAC), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) are doing with their declarations. Similarly, they could actually interact with these agencies under NICIS II.
The new software had earlier been launched at Lilypond Terminal, Port and Terminal Multi-services Limited (PTML) and Tin Can Customs Commands.
However its failure has affected cargo clearance at the ports in Lagos, Tin Can Island, and Kirikiri Lighter Terminal (KLT) twice this month during a heavy downpour.
The disruption was more pronounced at Lagos Port, which handles the largest imports just two weeks when it migrated to the new platform after its trial at Lilypond, PTML and Tin Can commands.
Speaking on the challenges, the Assistant Comptroller of Customs in charge of Customs Processing Centre (CPC), Apapa command, Yahaya Muktar highlighted some of the challenges the command had faced since the NCIS II took off two weeks ago, namely –
- that the migration from ASYCUDA system to NCIS II platform had caused a little disruption in revenue generation, however he said that the command had caught up on what was initially lost to the mixed up; and
- that the recent windstorm also contributed to the teething problems experienced at the command.
He explained that the service had not been able to access any work because of the server failure.
For the first week, there was no revenue collected. In the second week, when NCS got acclimatised to it, NCS collected N4.3 billon in a day which has now made up for the three days where no revenue was collected.
At the moment, the Lagos Port had only one scanning machine and that this was not adequate for the backlog of pending containers to be cleared. It was also confirmed that scanners were not working in some port terminals (Tin Can).
Requests for inspection were not being triggered properly resulting inspections not being completed.
Issues are also being experienced with debit notes resulting in importers being billed twice.
Many users were reluctant about using the new IT platform in the light of all the difficulties.
The challenges experienced range from network to various hardware and software technical issues. The NCS’s technical partner, Webb Fontaine is working with the implementation team to ensure normal resumption of customs processing for trade.
Source: New Telegraph Online, original article by Bayo Akomolafe, 30 May 2018