‘New cargo scanners to arrive in Nigeria next year’
Plans have been concluded to install new scanners that would aid cargo inspection across Nigerian ports, borders and airports next year.
The Controller, Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’, of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mohammed Uba Garba, disclosed that the new scanners would arrive the ports by the first quarter of 2018 to make cargo examination easier, faster, and surer.
The decision to replace them follows the collapse of all existing scanners in the ports, which were transferred to the Nigeria Customs Service in 2014/2015, thereby resulting in physical/manual inspection on containers, prolonged cargo delays, and the payment of rent and demurrage by importer/licensed Customs Agents and attendant serious security threats.
Cargo scanners allow for easy detection of contrabands and promote efficient inspection of consignment and clearance. This digital technology will also contribute immensely to the ease of doing business at the seaports.
Garba, who disclosed this during a chart with journalists, decried incessant smuggling of goods and arms into the country, noting that the Command has devised other means of nipping the menace in the bud.
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, had earlier said the Service had presented a memorandum for approval to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) during the last meeting, and commenced the procurement process.
“The documents have been presented to FEC. If it is approved then we are almost getting to see scanners at our seaports, airports and land borders. The procurement process is long. Scanners are not off-the-shelve items, we have to place order for them,” he said.
Garba used the opportunity to solicit media support for the NCS on awareness creation, and decried that many border communities, despite the community relations efforts, remained ignorant of the dangers of smuggling and smuggled goods, including economic sabotage.
He said the lack of knowledge is the reason why people see Customs officials as enemies, and sometimes attack them while carrying out their legitimate duty.
While making reference to Section 147 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), Garba said the law empowers Customs to search any warehouse where there is reasonable suspicion that prohibited goods are kept there.
Since the recent resurgence of illegal arms shipments into the country, stakeholders have been pushing for a return to pre-shipment inspection to check the trend. They attributed the rise in crime and criminal activities to lack of scanning machines in the ports.
Garba however argued that Nigeria stands at a far greater economic and security advantage with destination inspection of imported cargoes, against current pre-inspection regime.
He noted that destination inspection neither causes nor promotes arms smuggling, adding, “it is an extant government policy in the interest of the society and the economy. It creates and keeps jobs and revenue in the country because when goods arrive the ports, Customs officials and other relevant government agencies would have to inspect them,”
According to him, the jobs and payments for services are being retained by the originating country, especially as not only arms and dangerous drugs are being intercepted, but all smuggled goods, including those falsely declared or under-declared.
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