By Chinonye Anyatonwu
To facilitate the ease of doing business and fast clearance of goods and services at the Port, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed yesterday Commissioned three 500 maximum capacity newly installed mobile Scanners at Apapa port, Lagos.
Speaking at the event that held at the APM Terminals, Apapa, the Minister of Finance disclosed that one hundred and twenty Customs Officers and Men have already been trained to man the scanning machines and that the scanners will further upgrade the operations of the Nigeria Customs Service in line with international best practices.
According to the Minister, the present process of physical examination of cargo is time-consuming thereby causing loss of revenue for the Federal Government, unlike the new scanners that can scan cargo in minutes and detect concealed goods in cargo.
“This process enables more cargoes to be scanned and brings about the desired efficiency and effectiveness in Customs cargoes examinations.
“I, therefore implore the Management of the NCS to collaborate with the contractors to ensure proper maintenance and full utilization of the Scanners within the thirty (30) months provided in the contract agreement, as well as enhanced capacity building and training of one hundred and twenty (120) Customs scanning officers She said.
Also speaking at the event, the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) said, the Service will be fully responsible for the management and operation of the new equipment.
“Unlike previous attempts at managing scanners, our officers have been trained up to level 2 maintenance capability. This ensures that the day-to-day management of these machines will be proficiently handled by our officers who have been trained and certified by the manufacturers to carry out basic maintenance.
“We appreciate our partners the terminal operators, who have taken the pains to adjust their operations to suit the innovations of the moment. Our continuous collaboration will ensure that cargos are promptly delivered for scanning and evacuated from the ports as soon as they are certified to be compliant by our officers and other regulatory agencies.” He said.
Considering the usefulness of the scanners, the CGC said, it will further aid full compliance with extant laws and facilitate trade for compliant traders.
“We know that this equipment will be of special benefit to manufacturers who import homogenous items in large volumes. We also know that importers of high-risk goods will no longer have any place to hide. So we are hereby putting recalcitrant traders on notice. They either change or be ready to face the full consequence of their actions.”
The CGC noted that, the cargo scanning process will not only reduce the stress associated with positioning, offloading and taking inventory of containers. But will also store recorded images in a safe format easily accessible by all agencies from the comfort of their offices.
Another advantage is, it will make the auditing of transactions using images easier and will checkmate attempts by non-compliant traders to cheat the system.
Continuing , he said “The challenge of security is of immense concern to all well-meaning citizens. Since we know that a good number of items that pose a threat to national security find their way through our various entry points, we believe that the equipment that is being commissioned today will greatly enhance our capacity to defend our dear nation.” He stated.
“As we approach phase one of the customs modernization, we shall see the deployment of scanners to all sea ports, airports, and approved land borders. We shall also witness the launch of a central data management system when live feeds from our ports and borders can be viewed and monitored from our headquarters” the CGC concluded.
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