Stakeholders urge swift action on cargo scanners
Sequel to the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) submission that new cargo scanners would arrive in Nigeria by next year, stakeholders in the sector have called for swift action by the Federal Government to ensure that the timeline is sacrosanct.
Irked by the recurrent cases of illegal arm importation into the country through the seaports, the Group Executive Vice Chairman, SIFAX Group, Taiwo Afolabi, has urged the Federal Government to expedite action on the provision of scanners at various seaports in the country.
This is coming as the Port Harcourt Area II Controller, NCS, Comptroller Abubakar Bashir, expressed worry over the continuous delay in replacing the obsolete scanners, which he said are posing hindrance to efficient operations.
Afolabi, while expressing displeasure at the slow pace of government in addressing the problem of faulty scanners at the port that has compelled the customs to resort to 100 percent physical examination of cargo, said this situation has the potential of compromising the national security of the country.
“Within eight months, the number of illegal arms that have been imported into the country through the port is staggering and distressing. I am convinced that the absence of needed facilities like the scanner at the ports is what has emboldened these unpatriotic criminals to keep importing these arms. There is little that the customs can do to prevent this when they are not well equipped.
“I am worried that the Federal Government has not shown the kind of swift response and decisiveness that this illegal importation deway to go is to urgently provide scanners at the port,”
To address the provision of the scanners, Afolabi urged the government to take advantage of private sector financing, in view of the current dwindling financial capability of government.
“I want to urge the government to expedite action in the concessioning of scanning services at the ports. The terminal operators are capable of investing in the scanning services to create more revenue for the country, curb the importation of arms and other dangerous cargoes into the country and also make the Ease of Doing Business Executive Order successful”, he explained.
Meanwhile, Bashir said the Port Harcourt command of Customs has tightened its scrutiny by ensuring 100 percent physical examination of all cargos that comes through the Onne port.
The Area Controller reiterated that lack of functioning scanning machine remains its major challenge. He said, “I am worried over lack of functioning scanning machine in Onne port because we have able officers who are eager to execute the job but one thing or the other is hampering it”
“The ones we have are obsolete, they do not work. Though the present management is doing its best to repair or replace them,” he stated.Bashir said: “Port Harcourt area II command is ‘no go area’ because going by the trends of arms and ammunitions imported through the Lagos ports, the tempo in re-axaming all containers has intensified and we will continue with that until further notice “He disclosed that in the course of thorough examination of cargos, 23 seizures were made with Duty paid Value (DPV) of over N446 million.
According to him, a seizure of three more 20 containers carrying imported rice with a a DPV of N23 million also raised the profile of the command in anti smuggling.
He explained that the rice was sized for false declaration and for contravening imported guidelines, adding that the owner declared it as sewing machines.
He reminded the officers on its transparency stand during investigations of containers, stressing that the management will not spare anyone caught in the act.While noting that the command generated over N71 billion revenue between January to September, 2017, He added that the command introduced novel intervention methods to help it maintain standards equivalent to the performances of last year.
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