Customs expects 135 scanners under Modernization Project
As part of efforts attain speedy examination of cargoes and enhanced ease of doing business at the nation’s busiest ports, the Minister of Finance, Dr. (Mrs.) Zainab Ahmed has commissioned three scanners in Apapa, Tin Can Island and Onne ports, today.
Speaking at the ceremony which held in Apapa port, the Minister stated that the commissioning of the three new scanners is a milestone in Nigeria Customs Service efforts to expedite operations, achieve ease of doing business, facilitate trade and prevent port congestion.
The Minister also expressed optimism that the deployment of new scanners will improve national security and increase revenue generation to government.
“I therefore implore the management of the NCS to collaborate with the scanners contractor, 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) NCS scanning officers,” the Minister said.
The Minister equally commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approving the acquisition of the three (3) new Nuctech Mobile Scanners for Customs.
According to her, the current process of physical examination of cargoes is time consuming, causing loss of revenue to the government and cannot be compared with the efficiency attainable from the scanning of cargoes which is carried out in minutes and having the capacity to detect prohibited imports that are concealed in cargoes.
“I equally commend the Comptroller-General of Customs for his commitments towards the successful supply and installation of the three scanners at the three different locations. My appreciation also goes to the NCS officials and other invitees that graced this occasion out of their busy schedules. I am particularly glad because this project will no doubt aid the NCS in the delivery of its mandates, in line with the key priorities of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration targeted at reducing poverty and stimulating favourable macroeconomic economic conditions for sustained growth and development,” she added.
On his part, the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hammed Ali (Rtd) described the development as an commendable intervention by the Ministry of Finance in port operations for Customs with 135 scanners to be deployed under the Customs Modernization Project.
“Today’s event will go down in history as a watershed moment. Not because the scanning of goods are new to us in Nigeria, but because for the first time, Nigeria Customs Service will be fully responsible for the management and operations of this equipment.”
“As part of the reform strategy of our administration, we were compelled to adopt technology as the linchpin for trade facilitation. By recognizing its strategic importance, we have chosen to embrace it in its entirety. Our Modernization project seeks to automate all our processes and procedures, of which the inspection of imports and exports is fundamental. We know that to remain competitive our ports have to be more effective and efficient. As trade increases in volume, so must our capacity for facilitation,” the Customs boss said.
Ali posited that efficient cargo management, the full automation of Customs and other regulatory processes are guaranteed to bring down the cost of clearing, and ultimately the prices of goods in the open market, an occurrence that will be beneficial to consumers in Nigeria.
“We also understand that technology should be deployed in a manner most suitable to our needs and environment. This is why we have developed a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the use of these scanners. Our SOPs provide all stakeholders with a working guide as to their individual responsibilities. From Customs officers, freight agents, shipping companies, to terminal operators, roles are defined to show who should be doing what, where, how and when. It is the spelling out of these roles and how they should be performed that will ensure that we get the maximum benefits from using these non intrusive examination equipment,” the CG explained.
He, however, acknowledged the importance of partnering with other relevant government regulatory agencies, adding that Customs has created windows that will enable connectivity to its systems by other agencies.
“Where physical joint examinations were previously conducted by all relevant agencies, the scanning process will not only reduce the stress associated with positioning, off loading and taking inventory of containers. It will store recorded images in a safe format easily accessible by all agencies from the comfort of their offices. It makes the auditing of transactions using these images easier and will definitely checkmate attempts by non compliant traders to cheat the system”, he added.