I didn’t ask terminal operators to procure scanners, says ACG Dahiru
BY FRANCIS EZEM
The Zonal Coordinator in charge of Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service, Assistant Controller General ACG Aminu Dahiru has said he was wrongly quoted as saying that terminal operators should provide scanners for their various terminals across the nation’s eight seaports.
The Federal Government had in 2006 signed a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer BOOT, Destination Inspection contract with three service providers, under which the service providers procured scanners that were transferred to Customs, which took over the Destination Inspection Scheme at the end of the contract in 2014. Under the Port Concession Agreement, Federal Government through its relevant agencies are to provide certain basic port infrastructure and superstructure for the ports while the concessionaires, the terminal operators are to develop, modernise and acquire modern operational equipment for their terminals.
However, the ACG was alleged to have said recently that the terminal operators should emulate the gesture of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria FAAN by providing functional scanners at their various terminals located within the nation’s seaports, which most stakeholders said would be an aberration.
The Customs-boss, who spoke in an interview, denied making such assertion, insisting that he must have been quoted out contest. According to him, as a top officer of the service, he understands the norms and practices obtained in the industry, especially in terms of who does what or who provides which equipment at the ports.
“I merely asked a rhetorical question on who would provide the scanners, as many of them are currently obsolete and out of use. I could not have asked the terminal operators to provide scanners at the port because I know what is applicable”, the ACG said emphatically.
He however assured that the service would continue to its best in terms of promoting trade facilitation through the deployment of Information Communication Technology ICT and enthronement of international best practice, citing the recent deployment of Nigeria Integrated Customs Information Service NICIS II, which is in line with the World Customs Organisation WCO platform.
He also disclosed that the decision of the service to deploy the NICIS II, which replaces the Automated System for Customs Data *++, was to enhance ease of doing business and reduction in cargo dwell time, which also accounted for why the scheme was introduced in phases beginning from the Kiriri Lighter Terminal, Apapa, which has lower cargo volumes to the Apapa Port, which has the highest cargo volumes in the country in order to address all the teething problems.
He however expressed regrets that many importers and their customs brokers are not yet complaint in terms of accurate and honest declaration, a development he described as the biggest challenge and hindrance to the realisation of the full potential of the new ICT platform.
It was gathered that during a recent to the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders NAGAFF, stakeholders had complained to the Customs-boss that the lack of scanners was hampering the easy clearance of imported cargo at the ports, since all the scanners inherited from the service providers under the DI contract have all broken down.
ACG Dahiru however assured that the service was working toward ensuring that the Federal Government provided the scanners as soon as possible, but expressed doubts if the service would be allowed to manage it under the present dispensation.
Recall that the Comptroller General of the service Col. Hameed Ali had said last year while inspecting the large cache of arms seized at the Tin Can Island Command of the service told newsmen that the service had already completed all the paper works for the acquisition of the scanners, which has already been approved by the government.