The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has continued to grapple with the operations of the Nigerian Customs Integrated System (NICIS) 2 in Nigeria’s premier port, Apapa Quay.
The Apapa Quay which remains a key component of the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa is the busiest in the country.
The service is also experiencing the same hiccup in the operation of NICIS 2 in Nigeria’s largest and second busiest port, Tin Can Island Port Complex (TCIP), Apapa, Lagos.
Impeccable sources close to the Customs High Command, told Maritime Bits that besides Apapa and TCIP, another port situated in Lagos, Kirikiri Lighter Terminal (KLT), Apapa is also affected by the poor operation of the NICIS 2.
The hiccup is coming on the heels of the myriad of challenges the service is experiencing with its central server on the operation of NICIS 2 in recent times.
Already, the cargo clearance chain in the two ports has been negatively affected by the recurrent breakdown of the server in the two ports.
Apart from the payment of demurrage arising from the delay in the clearance of goods in the two seaports, there are fears in some quarters that if the hiccups are not promptly address, importers, licensed customs agents and other port users may have to contend with congestion in the months ahead.
The NCS, Customs Area Controller (CAC), Apapa Area Command, Comptroller Jibrin Musa had in a round-table meeting organised by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) in Lagos recently said it has been difficult officers and men of the service to work smoothly as a result of the epileptic way the NICIS 2 is presently operating.
The CAC who was represented at the roundtable by the officer- in-charge of Customs Processing Centre (CPC), Mr. Apapa Yahaya Mukhtar described the challenge in the execution of the NICIS 2 as “system errors”.
The Customs Chief called for stakeholders understanding of the situation, even as he called on importers to always make correct declarations.
According to him, wrong declarations and infractions remain the major cause of delay in cargo clearance in the nation’s seaports. We have not been able to access any work, importers have been able to capture any job. It means they have to start capturing tomorrow and taking deliver. It means another one day delay. We have held a meeting with the NICIS 2 team on some of the system errors, the NICIS 2 is a new platform and I am sure we would overcome it.
He revealed that Apapa command was not the pilot project as the NICIS 2 was kick started at KLT Command and later at Tin Can Island Port.
“But it is getting better by the day. The challenges in Apapa are very little compared to those we experienced at Tin Can”, he said.
The CAC however assured that the server failures will not lead revenue losses for the command.
He pointed out that at the moment, the Apapa port has only one scanning machine and that this is not adequate for the backlog of containers.
“The scanners are not working and we have only one scanner that is working in Apapa. At Tin Can and other areas we do not even have any, but in Apapa we have one that is functioning. If you have a backlog of works, how many containers can pass the scanner? If every importer wants pass their containers through the scanning site it would not be obtainable because we have just one machine. The port access roads also pose a challenge to a smooth port operation. This is because the poor state of the roads contributes in no small way to high cargo dwell time (CDT) in Nigerian ports which according to a World Bank report remains one of the highest across the globe.