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Published On: Mon, Jul 10th, 2017

Disappointment trails new Customs e-auction system

 The new Customs electronic auction system, which was kicked- started on July 1st , 2017,has produced 43 successive bidders among 282 interested bidders who were lucky to access the platform amidst technical hitches.
 Event though, the Customs authority described  the maiden electronic bidding process a success, but agitated Nigerians who wished to participate in the novel exercise expressed disappointment and anger at how they were denied an opportunity to participate in the process due to what they called technical hitches and irregularities.
 Majority of the complainants claimed that they could not access the porter that was opened for the process while other claimed that while they were able to access the porter, they could not register for bidding.
Others expressed anger that they could not access the e-wallet that would have enabled them to pay the mandatory N1000 before they could bid.
Other respondents blamed the use of only one bank, Jaiz bank, on the platform as being responsible for denying most prospective bidders the opportunity to take part.
They queried why the Customs authority should adopt only one unpopular bank on the platform among several other banks in the country.
‘’It would be easier for those who bank with the adopted bank to access the e-wallet than those not banking with the bank’’, a complainant declared.
“I think I was able to access the e-wallet because I am banking with Jaiz bank,” a respondent noted, wondering why the use of using only a bank with limited branches considering the population of the country.
 The challenges which the respondents encountered with the Custom e-auction were as diverse as their numbers.
A banker named Tarfa Suleman said that he was able to register and access the e-wallet but was unable to bid.
Suleman said that whenever he tried to bid, the server would go off, showing instructions like “not found’,“refresh’’ and “try again”.
“I don’t know why it was so difficult for me to bid, so l later called my friend to find out if he was able to bid, but he told me he has not been able to access the portal let alone registering. 
A businessman, Okey Chukumezie, said attempts to access the portal to register for the bidding were not successful.
Chukumezie said that whenever he tried to be on the portal, it kept on bringing out a “not found” instruction.
“If the Customs Service is not ready to start this auction, why is it making Nigerians go through such difficulty?” he queried.
A public servant, Florence Wukoma said that when she tried to register using the Tax Identification Number (TIN) on the platform, it refused to accept it.
“Whenever I tried using my TIN, it kept showing instructions like `incorrect TIN’, `TIN not found’ or `use email address’.
“I think the portal is having technical issues and needs to be attended to urgently so that people can register,” Wokuma said.
Another banker, Justina Aleburu, said that the portal was not just working.
“I have tried it severally, yet I can’t access the portal let alone registering,” she said. 
A civil servant, Adejola Babatunde, said that he was able to register after trying severally but was unable to access the e-wallet.
 However, the Customs authority has acknowledged the several challenges experienced by prospective bidders and promised to address them.
 According to Joseph Attah, the Customs’ spokesman, the hiccups experienced at the first trial was common with such a novel idea but promised that the ICT people are working round the clock to eliminate these problems before the second batch of the e-process comes on this Monday, July 10th, 2017.
 ‘’The identified challenges encountered in the first batch are being addressed by the ICT unit of the customs. Hopefully more commercial banks will come on board to ease access for payments.
”We are coming up with the second batch which will be uploaded on Monday and will stay up for another 48 hours before that batch of bidding will close again. The Service appears to be leaving up its promise of providing equal opportunities for  all interested persons while generating revenue for the government the e – auction.    
”Our Comptroller- General ,Col. Hameed Ali is committed to ensuring  the highest degree of transparency and fairness are maintained in the auction process. We will continue to guard against any form of abuse.
” Nigerians should have no reason to fear or worry over the activities of fraudsters as this system will keep them shut out permanently” Attah said.
He further explained the process and how it worked.
 ”The maiden round, which lasted for 48 hours, had vehicles of different makes, categories and models. It featured 282 registered bidders. A total of 268 bidders were enabled while 245 of them generated e-wallets assessment.  68 people were able to recharge their e-wallets with N1000 before bidding ‘’
Attah added that those who were unable to utilise their recharged e-wallets before first batch 48 hours elapsed can use it to bid when the second batch comes up on Monday 10th July 2017 for another 48 hours bidding period.
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