A mobile scanner at Apapa Port, Lagos.

The SIFAX Group, an indigenous multinational corporation with diverse interests in maritime, aviation, haulage & logistics, oil and gas and hospitality, has made a strong case to the Federal Government to concession the scanning service at all the country’s seaports in order to enhance efficiency

Recall that following the expiration of the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer BOOT, Destination Inspection DI contract between the Federal Government and the four service providers in 2013, the Nigeria Customs Service had taken over the DI scheme, which encompasses the scanning services at the air, seaports and land borders.

But most of the scanners had broken down due to poor maintenance, thus making the service to resort to 100 per cent physical examination of cargo with the attendant delays and additional cost on cargo owners.

Executive Director, SIFAX Haulage & Logistics Limited, Major Henry Ajetunmobi rtd. made the call while speaking at the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce’s Advocacy Roundtable on the theme, “The Role of Concessions in Fixing the Transportation Sector”.

He said there was a need for the government to deepen the involvement of the private sector in the country’s transportation industry in order to improve the level of efficiency in the sector.

Using the case study of the port concession, which has been adjudged as a huge success, as a strong argument point, Ajetunmobi said concessioning remains the most practicable options available to the Federal Government in its bid to address the debilitating infrastructural challenge in the industry.

“The current economic reality makes it clear to all that the Federal Government cannot solely address the infrastructural deficit in the country’s transportation sector. This deficit has negatively affected service delivery and ultimately, its contribution to the economy. This is the right time for the government to concession critical infrastructure in the sector, especially at the seaports”.

“Of utmost importance is the scanning service. Most scanners at the ports are either completely broken down or functioning well below installed capacity. This  situation has subjected the Nigerian Customs Service and other agencies to a hundred percent examination of cargoes, which does only wastes time but also more favourable to the smugglers, too. We have waited anxiously for the scanners and it is not forthcoming. I want the government to consider concessioning the scanning service to investors as this will really make the port reform system more efficient”, he said..

Under the DI contract, the service providers were to provide Computerised Risk Management System and scanning services for all imports into the country at the air, seaports and land borders as well as train officer of the Customs to take over the scheme at the end of the contract.

The service had experienced severe hitches in the first few months of the takeover contract, as it was marred by irregularities, which led to the discovery of more than 99, 000 pieces of unprocessed Risk Assessment Report RAR documents issued by the service providers were trapped within the system, as they could not be realigned with the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report PAAR regime of Customs..