Functional scanners prerequisite for 24-hour port operations, says SIFAX boss
Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Executive Vice Chairman, SIFAX Group
For issued as part of the Ease of Doing Business Executive Order recently signed by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the scanners at the nation’s ports must be kept functional.
The Group Executive Vice Chairman of SIFAX Group, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi has said that the Federal Government’s desire to achieve 24 –hour port operations across the nation would continue to be a ruse if the required scanners were not put in place.
Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo had in line the government’s policy of promoting the ease of doing business in the country issued some Executive Orders, which among other directives, mandated the relevant agencies of the government to commence 24-hour operation at the seaports
The Executive Orders also directed that the scanners at the nation’s seaports must be made to function optimally.
Dr. Afolabi however argued that the current state of most of the scanners in most of the seaports across the country cannot guarantee the scanning of trade goods at these ports, a development that might hinder the attainment of 24-hour operation.
He said: “Most scanners at our ports are either completely broken down or functioning well below installed capacity. This has left the personnel of the Nigerian Customs Service with no other option than to do 100 percent physical examination of cargoes. This comes with huge difficulties and impedes quality and efficient service delivery that the Ease of Doing Business executive order is trying to address.”
“In order to address the problem of faulty scanners the Federal Government should consider the option of concessioning as the current economic reality in the country has made it difficult for the government through the Nigeria Customs Service alone to shoulder the responsibility of infrastructure provision in critical sectors of the economy, including cargo scanning”.
“The model of concessioning is already a success in the maritime sector. The last 11 years of private sector involvement in port terminal management has brought great improvement to service delivery. I am convinced that such feat could be extended to the scanning service if the Federal Government gives private investors the opportunity of managing the process,” he said.
Apart from the improvement in service delivery, Afolabi also noted that functional scanners at the ports are necessary for national security in view of the recent cases of illegal arms importation through the nation’s sea ports. He argued that such illegal importation would have been discovered during cargo examination with the aid of functional scanners.
The SIFAX-boss also threw his weight behind the resolve of the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA to strictly enforce the approved number of security and government agencies at the ports, adding that such would greatly help fulfil the ease of doing business mandate.
It would be recalled that the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiz Bala Usman had last week paid a midnight visit to the Lagos Ports Complex, Apapa as part of efforts to fully comply with the Executive Order on 24-hour port operations.