POWER GENERATION –
PHCN’s failure pushes Customs to independence
… As Service runs gensets round-the-clock
The notorious incompetence of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) may have driven the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) into generating its own power requirements independently, particularly to maintain the integrity of its ever-expanding information communication technology (ICT) project.
This emerged during a visit to the Customs Headquarters, Abuja, last Thursday by journalists, as part of a retreat on Effective Media/ Public Relations Synergy for Maritime Development, organised by the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN) at the Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja, last Friday.
On a tour of the Customs Ruling Centre, the Head, Deputy Comptroller Yusuf Bashar explained that, because of the sensitive and critical nature of the unit’s work in the trade facilitation work of the NCS, its operations were being run by the Service with generating sets, independent of public power supply.
According to Bashar, a different generator is used for each day’s work to ensure uninterrupted power supply to the systems.
He added that the Service usually renewed the generators after two years of usage.
He affirmed that the Service would ensure conclusion of all Customs clearing procedures in six hours, as soon as the implementation of the impending regime of online Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) takes off.
“The essence of PAAR is that it eliminates waiting for any document by the importer when his/her cargo arrives.
“As we are speaking today, PAAR is ready. But June is the policy statement for PAAR to replace RAR (Risk Assessment Report), when the inspection would be handed over to the Customs,” Bashar said.
He explained that, as part of the preparations for the implementation of the PAAR scheme, the Service had stated training all government agencies having business to do at the ports, issuing the agencies a master user’s status.
He assured that the training would also be extended to the other stakeholders in the maritime industry.
Bashar said that, in order to prevent hacking into the Customs computer system, the Service had sent its officers to Canada, United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK) for training on combating cyber crime.
These officers, according to him, recently returned to the country.
Bashar said that the Customs had trained over 120 young graduates who have taken over the ICT Unit to process the trade portal hub.
He said that each of these officers, while on duty, would work for six hour in a day.
Earlier, that day in the Conference Room, where he received the journalists, Comptroller-General of Customs Dikko Inde Abdullahi, had indicated that the Service is firmly ready to execute its brief of trade facilitation.
Represented by Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs Garba Markafi, Abdullahi affirmed that the Service’s automation project was at high level and soaring even higher.
The computerisation project of the NCS, according to the Customs chief, has so advanced to the level that “you don’t need to have contact with any Customs officer before you clear your goods.”
He said: “I hope MARAN has details of our PAAR, which is fully computerised. Apart from the ASYCUDA (Automated System of Customs Data), we have the PAAR at the (Customs) Ruling Centre. We are online, so nobody needs to have a physical contact with any Customs officer before he or she clears the goods.
“Importers can clear their cargoes directly in their offices, provided the declaration is genuine. When you access the system, it will tell you whether you need Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) attention or National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) attention or the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) attention.
“If everything has been done correctly, I mean your declarations are genuine, the importer will just receive an SMS (short message service) from Customs to come and pick his cargo. Everything is on ground for the eventual take-over from the destination inspection companies in July.”
The Customs chief told his guests: “You are the image makers. We want you to sell us out to the public, that Customs has come off age. Without you, no matter how much we beat our drums, it will not have the same effect, compared to you selling us out to the world. Your single N10 pen can sell out to million dollars in revenue.”
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