Customs begins e-auction on controversial platform

  • As 77 are killed in Central Africa truck accident

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) yesterday said no fewer than 43 persons won the bidding of vehicles within the first 48 hours of the newly launched e-auction platform.

Stakeholders and Industry watchers however controverted the view, insisting that even up to 5 pm Nigerian time, the Customs e-auction  platform was still under maintenance.

“The platform is active and working’’, highlighted the Nigeria Customs Service Public Relations Officer, Mr Joseph Attah, Wednesday in Abuja, making a clarification, following a barrage of complaints from interested bidders that they could not access the Customs’ auction websites.

The Comptroller-General of Customs, retired Col. Hameed Ali, on July 3 in Abuja inaugurated the e-auction platform aimed at giving all Nigerians equal opportunities to partake in bidding for seized vehicles and to increase Customs’ revenue.

Joseph Attah, NCS Image Maker

“At the first day of the launching, there were technical challenges with the e-auction platform and these challenges have already been resolved.

(But)“Potential bidders can now register smoothly without hitches.

“The first 48 hours expired at 12noon on Wednesday and already 43 persons have won the bidding including a journalist, so you can see this platform is working.

“For now it is only Jaiz bank that is on the platform, other designated banks are having Interswitch issues and they will soon be on board as soon as they ratify the issues.

“I understand that today one bank will soon be on board,’’ Attah stated further, calling on potential bidders to be calm and make use of the bank available on the platform for now, until other banks could come on board.

“For those trying to registers, they should go to the designated bank area on the platform, click on the Jaiz bank and print out the page from their system and go to the bank to pay.

“This means the person has activated with Jaiz bank and the bank can key you into the bank system to enable you pay the N1, 000 administrative fee, which will be transferred to your e-wallet,’’ he explained further.

But stakeholders, highlighting that Customs was probably operating in a yet to be known fairy island faulted the view, wondering how a platform under maintenance could dispense off cargo, in such unsalutary manner.

“This one is Customs wonder!” an industry watcher, Egbewole Joseph told the Maritime First, even as another respondent wondered why the Customs Comptroller General, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) was bringing up the banks one by one, rather than throw the gates open at ones for all the banks.

“This is the most reckless e-auction I have been privileged to watch. You took two years to prepare for a project, flagged it off on Monday with dungarees and klieg lights, only to announce on Wednesday that only one muslim bank or so has been admitted to the platform by Wednesday? Yet, you have dispense off with at least, 43 choice cargo?”, observed the respondent, who preferred to speak under anonymity.

The Nigerian news Agency NAN also confirmed that it’s reporters who kept the watch and monitored event equally came up with same lopsided verdict: noting that “between 4:10 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, July 5, the platform was showing ‘Under Maintenance’.

“The platform also gave an instruction saying: “Dear user, the server is currently undergoing scheduled maintenance or upgrade. Please refresh the page in a few minutes.’’

“However, after many attempts to refresh the page by NAN Correspondent, it still showed the same instruction” the new agency submitted.

Meanwhile, industry watchers are keeping their fingers crossed, wondering if indeed, this is the best performance Nigeria as a country can give, even under a regime that distinguishes and prides itself as corrective.

In the meantime, at least 77 people have died after a heavy goods lorry that was carrying passengers tipped over in the Central African Republic, officials said Wednesday.

The accident took place Tuesday between Bambari and Ippy in the centre of the country.

“Fifty-nine bodies were taken to the morgue at the regional hospital in Bambari and 18 (were taken) by their relatives for burial,” Bambari hospital official Michel Zahandji told AFP.

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said around 60 injured people were being treated at the same hospital.

“It was a 10-wheel truck that was transporting tonnes of goods and people setting off for the weekly market in Maloum. It tipped over with all its cargo,” said Bambari Mayor Abel Matchipata.

A Bambari police officer said: “We have counted in total 77 deaths, most of them men. But there are also many injured, including some in a serious condition.”

The accident may have been linked to “technical failures and to (the lorry) being overloaded”, the officer said, adding that an investigation had been opened to determine the cause of the accident.

Local resident Hubert Tchenebou told AFP it was not the first time an accident involving an overloaded truck had happened in the area.

“There are police and UN forces (in the area), but they let vehicles pass on which people are perched like birds,” said Tchenebou, reached by telephone.

Due to lack of other transportation, people in the Central African Republic regularly resort to travelling in overloaded trucks, which are often in a poor condition.

Additional report from Zee