The African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) has kicked against the launch of Cargo Tracking System by Webb Fontaine for use in Nigerian Ports.
APFFLON President, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, described the launch as a deceit by Webb Fontaine to remain at the nation’s ports despite poor services it renders to the Nigeria Customs Service.
APFFLON President lamented that Webb Fontaine has become irrelevant in the nation following the E-Customs project and other automated processes by the Service.
Ogunojemite expressed worry that the new contract may be an indication that some highly placed politicians and Customs officials may be profiting from the arrangement with Webb Fontaine.
Recall that Webb Fontaine recently put up Cargo Tracking System for customs and trade automation with a pilot scheme in Apapa port.
According to the report, the Operations Manager, Webb Fontaine, Vlad Ionescu said the feat which is a breakthrough and major milestone in NCS modernisation drive would aid online, real-time and live monitoring containers within controlled areas in the customs zone at the port and outside of the port.
Ionescu noted that anomalies such as containers missing in transit, tampering with the seal, broaching and removal of cargo before the examination can be easily detected and traced using the technology. This, he said, would also change the narrative that neighbouring countries like Benin Republic are ahead of Nigeria in areas of customs and ports aided.
Noting that the contract of Webb Fontaine was scheduled to end this month, Ogunojemite argued that Nigerian importers, freight forwarders and the nation’s entire maritime sector should receive a breathe of fresh air without Webb Fontaine, because the services of the company have been an economic sabotage to the nation.
“The company’s 16-year management of Customs portal has been characterized by consistent server breakdowns which either connote gross inefficiency or a non-challance work culture by the organization. Now, we have commendable development at Customs with Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) valuation system, V-Reg, scanners have been deployed and over 100 more are expected with the Customs Modernization Project; why should this country continue to keep creating platforms for Webb Fontaine?”
“Webb Fontaine has made Nigerian importers suffer colossal fiscal losses from downtime at every port and terminal in the nation. This additional cost leads to higher prices for the imported goods (inflation), impoverishing Nigerians while the company suffers no losses,” he said.
The veteran freight forwarder also wondered if the company was doing the Cargo Tracking System in collaboration with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) as the Council has a similar mandate.
Ogunojemite also recalled that APFFLON had a pending petition against Webb Fontaine at the National Assembly over its poor performance in the subsisting contract with Customs.
In a bid to provide clarity on Shippers Council’s Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) platform, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Hon. Emmanuel Jime told News Diet that the Council wasn’t working in sync or affiliated to Webb Fontaine in anyway.
Jime, however, noted that the procurement processes to deliver cargo tracking is ongoing with the Ministry of Transportation currently supervising the development.
His words: “I am not aware of this development (Cargo Tracking System) and we are not involved with Webb Fontaine in anyways. The procurement processes to deliver cargo tracking is ongoing with the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Transportation.”