Reps query Customs chief
… As Calabar Port scans only 5 trucks in 5 yrs
Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Customs and Excise have given the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Cross River/Akwa Ibom Command, Comptroller Alamina Legg-Jack, a two-week ultimatum to officially file a report on why the scanner at the Calabar Port has not been functioning optimally in the last few years.
The Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Kingsley Chinda, who led other members on a tour of the facilities of Destination Inspection (DI) scheme service providers at the port, said that there was the need for Nigerians to know how the scanners, among other services at the port, had been put to use in the last seven years.
The visiting team observed that the scanner had not been put to optimum use, a situation which prompted Chinda to direct the CAC to send a report on the challenges being faced at the port to the committee.
“Make a report and let us know what we can do to get the port working. In two weeks, we expect to see the report and act on it,” Chinda directed.
While explaining the challenges facing the Calabar Port, the General Manager, Site Operations, Global Scansystems Limited, Mr. Hassan Adeogun, had revealed that the HCV Mobile Scanner, which had been on ground for scanning of containers since December 2007, had only scanned five trucks till date.
Adeogun attributed the poor use of the scanner to the low volume of trade at the port, adding that the depth of the water in Calabar was not the reason why ships were not coming, but the unavailability of cargoes, among others.
He said: “In the last seven years that we have operated in Calabar, only 2,059 risk assessment reports were issued. The HVC mobile scanner that has been on ground for scanning containers at the Calabar port since December 2007 has only scanned five trucks.
“We held series of seminars in Calabar, Aba and Onitsha to enlighten stakeholders on the destination inspection scheme. The participants at the various seminars maintained that the problem of inactivity at the Calabar Port was beyond low draught of the port. According to them, dredging the port may not necessarily improve economic activities there.
“When you see the size of ships bringing bulk cargoes for UniCem, Dangote, Flour Mills and other importers, you will be right to conclude that any container-carrier ship can conveniently berth at the Calabar Port, but if there are no economic quantity of containers to be brought to Calabar by ships, owners will stay off the port.”
To make the port work, Adeogun suggested that challenges such as bad road network between Calabar and other major cities, high freight charges and non-inauguration of the Tinapa Business Resort, among others, should be addressed with the dredging of the port.
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