Customs Raise Alarm Over Abuse of e-Manifests, Threatens to Retrieve Access from Shipping Lines, Airlines

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Col Hameed Ali (rtd)

By DAPO OLAWUNI

The Nigeria Customs Service has raised an alarm of continuous security breeches on its systems by shipping lines, shipping agents, airlines and other service users in the transmission of electronic cargo manifests.

R-L: Comptroller Kunle Oloyede, ACG Saidu Galadima, Compt Yusuf Malanta and Comptroller Bomai of PTML Command at the stakeholders meeting on Thursday

Speaking at a stakeholders meeting on e-manifest Transmission process held on Thursday at the Apapa Area Command in Lagos,
Assistant Comptroller General in charge of Customs Modernization and ICT, Mr Aliyu Saidu Galadima lamented challenges the service is encountering with the stakeholders in the transmission of e-manifest.

According to him, the management of customs is now coming up with a fresh Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and a manual which would be given to everyone on the latest procedures to follow in transmission of e-manifest.

In his remarks, Galadima said “The essence of this meeting is to address the challenges that we are facing in the transmission of e-manifest. Severally, we have issued circulars, but the beeches is becoming very alarming, what is the end result? The integrity of what we have in the system to work with is at stake.

“The management resolved that we should all come together, brainstorm together, let’s her from you and you hear from us, so that we can resolve on the way forward”

Also speaking at the meeting, Customs Area Controller of Tin Can Island Command, Comptroller Kunle Oloyede said that all shipping lines and airlines are required to build a front-end infrastructure which would enable them continue to interface with customs.

According to him, a September 30th deadline was given and this has elapsed. He threatened that henceforth, customs would start going round for inspection and any of the stakeholders who failed to comply would be blocked from customs access.

A cross section of customs officers and shipping stakeholders in attendance at the meeting

Speaking, Compt Oloyede said “I would like to reiterate this to the shipping lines and airlines that you have a deadline of September 30th which has passed for you to build your front end infrastructure. The deadline is gone, we may need to start taking action very soon.

“The procedure is clear, even if we are going to update and upgrade, from your side, build your front end infrastructure. We are in contact with all the shipping lines, we have sent circulars to you that we would soon deploy people to come and check if you are actually build that application, if not, we may have to take our access from you” he said

On his side, the Customs Area Controller, Apapa, Comptroller Yusuf Malanta charged the customs service providers; Webb Fontaine to come up with a coding system to separate shipping lines and shipping agents.

According to him, most of these challenges are perpetuated by the shipping agents.

“It is very important that we look at the security architecture of this system and come out with a formidable infrastructure that nobody can break through. Of course, the use of front end is very important, this would give you access to the back end or to the VPN.

“The issue is that we have shipping lines and we have Shipping Agents, based on experience, the number of shipping agents are more than the number of shipping lines.

“Webb Fontaine should go back to the drawing board and see how they can separate the shipping lines and agents through a coding system, so that even if you want to penetrate into the shipping line access, we would know that this is a shipping agent.

“In most cases, they use the criteria of a shipping line in transmission of manifests, and this is mostly from the shipping agents. So let us separate them with a coding system” Compt Malanta charged

Meanwhile, the management of Webb Fontaine, Nigeria Customs Service providers at the stakeholders meeting assured that it’s management is working on providing “central manifest Registration” in order to avoid duplication of manifests by importers and shipping companies.

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