The inability of shippers and their clearing agents to link Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) generated by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has made several cargoes stranded in Lagos ports.
The problem is reportedly caused by unstable server.
Importers said there was need for the Federal Government to build a single window interface between critical agencies involved in the clearance of goods to reduce demurrage charges.
An importer, Mr Segun Adeoti, said that at Tin Can Island and the Apapa ports, cargoes imported could not be cleared by their owners because of delay in linking their TIN numbers to NCS server and he urged the government to find a permanent solution to the problem.
Although, Adeoti acknowledged that prior to this time, linking TIN to Customs server was never a problem because the clearing agents always come to the rescue by using their own TIN number for their importers.
However, the management of NCS had stopped the practice, saying that importers must use their personal TIN numbers.
Another importer, Mr Adelaja Sunmonu, stressed the need for Customs to step up and manage its own network by training officers, rather than concessioning it to service providers.
His words: “This is the time for the Nigeria Customs Service to license its own communication technology and manage it. The service has what it takes to do it; the service provider they gave it to is not doing a good job.
“The lack of network in linking the TIN to the customs platform is causing delay in cargo evacuation. Even within the Customs server itself, to exit cargo from the system has been epileptic, sometimes we don’t work for a whole day.
“The problem right now is not from FIRS, the TIN numbers have been generated, but they cannot be linked up to the customs server. The server is epileptic and that is the biggest challenge we are facing as we approach the new year.”
Sunmonu also said before the latest problem, clearing agents used their TIN numbers for their importers, saying that the NSC recently stopped it and insisted that importers must use their own TIN number.