Worried that the nation might be frittering resources in an unnecessary venture which could be channelled to other areas, Licensed customs agents in the country have kicked against the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) N3.1 billion E-customs project, describing it as avoidable duplication.
According to thisdaylive.com, President of National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), the umbrella body of customs agents in Nigeria, Lucky Speaking to journalists in Lagos, Amiwero said the Nigeria Customs Service is presently operating an e-customs model powered by Webb Fontaine and that the approval for another one is not necessary.
According to him, all that is needed is an upgrade of the existing platform being used by the NCS to meet the demands and expectations of trade.
He added that customs processes in Nigeria have since migrated from manual to electronic and that the expected e-customs or modernisation project won’t be different from what is on ground.
“What we call E-Customs is what we have in Webb Fontaine. I was actually the person that wrote to the government before all of these things came to materialise. In 2001 I put up a write up about something, which I don’t want to mention, it was the model that the federal government changed to set up the whole thing. So what Customs is doing and what Webb Fontaine has is E-Customs. If government is talking about another E-Customs project, then they don’t know what it means, “he said.
He added, “It is simply electronically transferred transactions. Is that not what Webb Fontaine is doing? Central Bank is doing E-banking and Customs is doing E-Customs. There was a time Customs processes were manual and you had to carry things from shipping companies to terminal, etc., but now all those things are gone.
“So what you have on ground is already E-Customs, and no need to duplicate it. Webb Fontaine should have handed everything over to Customs. For now we don’t have scanners, they are all dead.
But you still have a platform that is still working, so what they should have done is to audit that platform. It was done I think in 2008 or 2009; and it was supposed to be re-audited before and transferred.
“Those are the issues that are on ground and they are the tools and instruments you need to make your ports efficient, “he said.
Amiwero said the N3.1b customs modernisation project is unnecessary.