Customs to replace obsolete scanners at Nigerian ports, says Comptroller-General

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says it is contemplating the replacement of obsolete scanners to reduce delay in cargo clearance at the ports and land borders.

Its Comptroller-General, Hameed Ali, said this recently in Lagos.

According to him, the fund for the procurement of new scanners has been captured in the 2016 budget.

He said, “Most of our scanners are obsolete and we are doing everything. It is part of our budget.

“We are working with the Ministry of Finance to quickly acquire new scanners.

“The few ones that are working, we will make sure that we maintain them.

“I must confess that not all the scanners are working and for us to fast track clearance, the scanners are essential.

“All containers go through the scanners and after that, whichever one that is blank, is the one that will be subjected to physical examination. That is what is done globally.

“So we are working seriously to make sure that we get scanners, we acquire scanners and put them in our ports, airports and the land borders.

“That would fast track our own clearance process.

“If the scanners are not working of course we will not be able to fast-track clearance and we must have to subject them to human examination.

“In doing that, delay is found, you know how long it takes to physically examine a 40ft container.

“If you have to bring out everything in it, physically look at it and certify that what is on paper is what is there.

“That will take quite a bit of time for both the clearing agents, the customs officers.

“I think the solution to this is the acquisition of scanners and that is why we are helping them in making sure we get scanners as quickly as possible and deploy them.”

Ali further said that instability in foreign exchange rate had also affected the flow of imports, adding that customs officers were still making sure they generated more revenue.

“The briefing of the minister of finance where she gave a preview of revenue generation, I think we got a pat on the back that we are doing quite well.

“The situation is bad in the sense that trade is low and Nigeria Customs cannot create trade; we only make way for people to import.

“There are so many variables today that are impinging on importation as Forex regime as we know keep fluctuating.

“So importers still have problem with that. We still have the 41 items that had been banned from accessing forex, which also has brought down quantum of importation into the country.

“Our hope is that we would have more industries in this country to collect excise from instead of collecting import duties from our traders.

“In terms of naira and kobo, there is no way I can quantify that to fight against corruption.

“What we do is to make sure we monitor our officers on a daily basis.

“Any infraction that we discover is punished and punished severely.

“I will try to enforce the law as it is in the book,” he said.

Ali, however, said that the current management had reduced corruption in the system to the barest minimum.

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