Low scanner utilisation hits Apapa Customs over declining cargo volumes
The Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service has said that the existing scanning facilities at the Lagos Ports Complex are grossly underutilised owing to the dwindling volume of imports into the country contrary to earlier beliefs that the scanners are grossly inadequate.
Recall that in addition to the global economic downturn, some of the policies of the Federal Government, especially the discriminatory Foreign Exchange policy, which barred over 41 items of import including raw materials from accessing foreign exchange through the regulated official market rate contributed significantly to the sharp decline in cargo volumes.
Public Relations Officer of the command, Nkiruka Nwala, who spoke during a chat at the weekend, admitted that there has been a sharp decline in the volume of goods imported through the command.
She also said that though there are plans by the Federal Government to acquire new scanners and also refurbish some of the old one that are not up to date, the existing ones have not been put to optimum use due to the low volume of business at the ports.
“I do not need to tell, the volume of imports has declined considerably and so there is no way the scanners would be put into optimum use because the goods are not there in the first place”
“In fact things are beginning to come up, activities are picking up, mind you there has been a relative stability in the foreign exchange market since the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN has injected more forex and also given that the country is gradually coming out of the economic recession as reported recently”, she said.
On the effects of the perennial traffic logjam that characterise most of the port access roads in Apapa, she noted that most segments of operations at the ports were negatively affected by the gridlock while it lasted.
According to her, there has however been an improvement in the situation, especially after the palliatives on some failed portions of some of the port access roads, especially the Wharf Road, which is the major artery in and out of the Apapa Port.
She also disclosed that there have been constant interactive meetings among the various stakeholders as well as government agencies including the Nigeria Police, which she said led to an improvement in the management and control of traffic in the area.
According to her, one of the outcomes of such discussions was the deployment of 100 new men of the Nigeria Police to control traffic from the Area B Police Barrack end of the Wharf Road up to the LPC port gate, which has brought a lot of sanity to the area.
She expressed optimism that the with the commencement of work on the reconstruction and expansion of the Wharf Road by AG Dangote and improved traffic management, the chaotic nature of the road would be addressed substantially.