– DESTINATION INSPECTION –
Global Scan boss, Udechukwu, raises doubts about Customs’ capacity
… Alleges entrusting scanners in Service’s hands is risky
Global Scansystem is one of the three service providers engaged by the Federal government to work with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on destination Inspection of goods.
The initial seven-year contact, which elapsed last December, was later extended by six months.
One of the terms of the contract was provision, operation and maintenance of the hi-tec scanners used to scan goods at the seaports, airports and land border stations.
The service providers were also required to train Customs personnel in operating and maintaining the machines at their exit.
However, about two months to the lexit date of the service providers, Udechukwu is claiming that the NCS lacks competent hands to operate and maintain the scanning machines.
The Global Scansystem boss alleged that all the efforts by the service providers to train Customs personnel in this critical aspect of the contract were thwarted by the top echelon of the Service.
He said: ‘’For Global Scan, the contract stipulates that we should train 350 officers, but I insisted that that number is too negligible to make an impact. We have so far trained 1,600 officers and we are still training. However, the officers are not trainable in the operations and maintenance of scanner because of the dearth of officers with the requisite knowledge in engineering courses. Customs has no engineer!’’
According to him, few of the officers the service providers had found to be manageable and had trained were not allowed to stay for the mandatory period for supervision before they were redeployed by their superiors.
‘’Some of them are more interested to be on the field, where the action is, than to stay at the training sites,’’ Udechukwu alleged.
This development, according to the Global Scan boss, has left a serious knowledge gap in the Customs, especially in the area of operations and maintenance of the scanners.
Warning of dire health consequences, if the scanners are left in the hands of Customs personnel after the exit of the service providers, Udechukwu said: ‘’The fixed scanner emit nine million volts of x-ray, which is the maximum allowed by the World Health Organisation(WHO), while the mobile scanner emit 3.8million volts of x-ray. But if it goes beyond that, anybody who is within the sight of the machine will die. The x-ray being emitted by these machines cause cancer and you could imagine if they are left in the hands of the untrained and uncommitted people, cancer will ravage this country, God forbid.’’
Udechukwu explained that it takes a minimum of between 12 months and 18 months to get adequate training on the operation and maintenance of these machines, with additional six months for supervision.
The Global Scansystem boss claimed that the service providers had to prevail on the Customs Management to recruit young physists, chemists in their first recruitment exercise, but lamented that none of these officers was sent to them for training after their mandatory training in Customs rudiments.
He also alleged that the Customs top brass did not heed the request of his company to second officers to the organisation when the fixed scanner at the Seme border post was being installed.
The Global Scansystem boss, who declared that he had made known his fears to the National Assembly and other relevant authorities for necessary intervention, urged all parties involved in the contract not to play politics with the health of Nigerians.
‘’We should look beyond money or politics but come together to ensure that these scanners are not exposed to Nigerians as a result of its health implication,” Udechukwu said, offering the services of his companyis expertise in this regard to safeguarde the health of the people.
However, even as the Customs has accused the service providers of plans to sabotage its take-over of the scanning project, the Service has disclosed that it has sent about 300 officers for training with Smith Detection in France on the proper operations and maintenance of the scanning machines.