…to expire in 30 months
By Esther Komolafe
The Federal Government of Nigeria has acquired three scanning machines at the rate of $ 18.12 million for the Nigeria Customs Service in three Nigerian ports Apapa, Tincan and Onne expected to expire in 2025 May.
The Management of the NCS is to collaborate with the Scanners Contractor, to ensure proper maintenance and full utilization of the Scanners within the thirty (30) months provided in the Contract Agreement.
This information was revealed in the opening speech of the Honorable Minister of Finance Budget and National planning Dr Zainab Ahmed at Apapa in Lagos today 22 November 2022.
The Honorable Minister Commissioned 3 Newly acquired and installed NUCTECH mobile Scanners for the use of NCS in the three respective ports.
Dr Zainab at the event that took place today at the APM Terminals Apapa disclosed that 120 officers of the NCS have been trained to operate the scanning machines, adding that the scanners would modernize the operations of the NCS in line with International best practices.
In her speech, she said that the current process of physical examination of cargo is time-consuming, causing loss of revenue to the government and cannot be compared with the Scanning of cargo which is carried out in minutes and can detect prohibited imports that are concealed in cargoes.
The Minister also said that the commissioning of the three new scanners is a milestone in the Service efforts to expedite Customs operations, achieve ease of doing business, facilitate trade, prevent Port congestion, increase revenue generation to the government and improve national security.
She promised the service to expect more scanners as efforts are on the ground for more procurement for the Seaports, Land Borders and Airports in the Country.
In her words “It would be recalled that the Federal Government in 2005 contracted the provisions, installations, operations and management of X-Ray Scanners and Computerized Risk Management System for the examination of goods on Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) basis, for a period of Seven (7) years to three (3) Scanning Service Providers (SSPs) namely: Cotecna Destination Inspection Limited, Societe Generale De Surveillance Limited and Global Scan Systems Limited.
“At the expiration of the contract in December 2012, it was extended to a period six of (6) months which ended in June 2013. Subsequently, the Government entered into a Transition Agreement which terminated on 30 November 2013 and the NCS commenced the operations of the Scanners.
However, upon the exit of the Scanning Service Providers (SSPs), some of the Scanners became dysfunctional which resulted in the physical examination of goods by the NCS.
“This challenge, made the Government provide the new Scanners at the three main Ports, to improve the examination of cargoes by the NCS.
“Furthermore, the current process of physical examination of cargoes is time-consuming, causing loss of revenue to the government and cannot be compared with the Scanning of cargoes which is carried out in minutes and can detect prohibited imports that are concealed in cargoes.
“This process enables more cargoes to be scanned and brings about the desired efficiency and effectiveness in Customs cargoes examinations.
Also speaking at the event was the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Rt Col Hameed Ali and he assured that the Service will be fully responsible for the management and operations of the equipment.
“Unlike previous attempts at managing scanners, our officers have been trained up to level 2 maintenance capability. This ensures that the day-to-day management of these machines will be proficiently handled by our officers who have been trained and certified by the manufacturers to carry out basic maintenance.
“We appreciate our partners the terminal operators, who have taken the pains to adjust their operations to suit the innovations of the moment. Our continuous collaboration will ensure that cargos are promptly delivered for scanning and evacuated from the ports as soon as they are certified to be compliant by our officers and other regulatory agencies” he said
Col Ali reiterated the importance of willful compliance to extant laws regarding International trade, adding that customs is ready to do to assist compliant traders.
“We know that this equipment will be of special benefit to manufacturers who import homogenous items in large volumes. We also know that importers of high-risk goods will no longer have any place to hide. So we are hereby putting recalcitrant traders on notice. They either change or be ready to face the full consequence of their actions” he warned
He assured that with the new scanners, the cargo scanning process will not only reduce the stress associated with positioning, loading and taking inventory of containers. It will store recorded images in a safe format easily accessible by all agencies from the comfort of their offices.
It makes the auditing of transactions using these images easier and will checkmate attempts by non-compliant traders to cheat the system.
Speaking further he said “The challenge of security is of immense concern to all well-meaning citizens. Since we know that a good number of items which pose a threat to national security find their way through our various entry points, we believe that the equipment that is being commissioned today will greatly enhance our capacity to defend our dear nation.
“As we approach phase one of the e-customs modernization we shall see the deployment of scanners to all sea ports, airports and approved land borders. We shall also witness the launch of a central data management system when live feeds from our ports and borders can be viewed and monitored from our headquarters.”