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Government urged to revisit collapsed port scanners amid border closure

By Sulaimon Salau
30 October 2019   |   4:20 am
For the nation to optimally benefit from the border closure, the Federal Government has been urged to make the seaports more efficient and facilitate the installation of cargo scanners.

Model of a cargo scanner

For the nation to optimally benefit from the border closure, the Federal Government has been urged to make the seaports more efficient and facilitate the installation of cargo scanners.

The National President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, in a latter to the Presidency, said the scanners contracted under build operate own and transfer (BOOT) and transferred to Nigeria Customs Service in 2014/15 have all collapsed, thereby forcing the Nigeria Customs Service to embark on 100 per cent physical examination.

Amiwero said the physical examination as well as the Destination Inspection regime is slowing down cargo examination at the ports and poses threat to the security of the country.

“There is serious concern about the nation’s import and export system and the economy is vulnerable to terrorist exploitation due to our cargo inspection regime (Destination Inspection) which practice contravenes the World Customs Organisation (WCO) Safe Frame Work of Standard to secure and facilitate global trade,” he said.

Amiwero, a former Member Reconstituted Presidential Task Force On The Reform Of Nigeria Customs Service (RPTFCR), said the Destination Inspection regime process allows for influx of unwholesome goods into the country, such as arms, ammunitions, contrabands and the reduction of revenue, which exposes the nation to serious security threats.

In a latter tagged “Hindrance to Trading Across Borders on Ease of Doing Business Due to the Collapsed Scanners Use for Security and Trade Facilitation in Nigerian Ports” he urged the government to facilitate the acquisition of new scanners to ease clearing process at the ports.

He said the collapse of the scanners have severe consequences such as serious security threat as a result of physical/ manual inspection on Containers, which limits the function of the Customs officers to perform the selectivity on mid-level risk consignment allocated to the scanners for detection of security products and unwholesome goods.

Laborious Inspection without scanners encourages delays and the payment of rent and demurrage by importer and licensed Customs agents; costly inspection to importer and licensed Customs agents on physical inspection without scanners, which is a risk to the Custom officers and the agents, who are strangers to the transaction.

The regime, according to him also make the terminal operators incur high costs in the process of redirecting all allocated containers from scanning to physical examination, which is double handling to Licensed Customs Agents.

He however emphasized the urgent need to repair the collapsed scanners in the ports that is the core on security tool to reduce the influx of illicit goods in the country.

According to him, Nigeria as a contracting party to the global Multi-layered Security protocol the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards, must to comply with the protocol by reducing the illicit cross border movement of unwholesome goods into the country.

He also stressed the need to initiate the process of memorandum of understanding (MOU) with various countries, where cargo throughput of import is high such as China, Turkey, India, for collaborative activities on the prevention, investigation, repression and transnational crime as contained in various conventions.

He urged that government to urgently constitute a committee of trade procedure experts to address the shortfall in the import process, which constitutes bottlenecks and imped the component of trading across border on ease of doing business.