About four years after the Nigeria Customs Service took over cargo inspection from the service providers, the Federal Government may have ordered investigations into why the scanners which the service providers left at the various seaports across the country packed up immediately.
The three service providers namely: Globascan, SGS and Cotecna were relieved of their contract on December 1, 2013. A reliable source at the Ministry of Finance confirmed to Shipping Position Daily last week that the government is suspecting sabotage, and is expanding its dragnet to the destination inspection service providers who transferred the scanners, as well as the Nigeria Customs Service officials who received the scanners to determine why the scanners are not working.According to the source, the scanners were acquired by destination inspection agents based on; Built Operate and Transfer terms. He said that the scanners were supposed to last up to 12 years; According to him, some of them can stay as long as 20 years. But he said that government is worried that the fixed scanners at the ports are just five years old.“There are certain things about the scanners that the government is looking into, the scanners are being investigated. The scanners were acquired based on; build operate and transfer, and the pre-investment process of that scanner has been enjoyed by the pre-shipment inspection agents, the government has not enjoyed anything”“The scanners are supposed to be working by now, and the people who transferred those scanners and the customs who received the scanners are the people that need to be investigated on why the scanners are not working”“These are scanners that are supposed to stay up to 12 years; some of them can stay as long as 20 years. But the scanners at our ports are just five years old” he said.Speaking in Lagos recently, Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) stated that the Committee on Ease of Doing Business is collaborating with the office of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, to handle the procurement of scanners worth N36billion by first quarter of 2018. He noted: “By the first quarter of 2018, there would be scanners in the ports. I can tell you, we are almost there; it has reached the office of the acting president. It is being handled under his own office, with the collaboration of the ease of doing business committee.”“It will have to pass through bureaucracy. By first quarter of next year, we should have scanners at the ports.”Also, a reliable source at one of the terminals in Lagos; APM Terminals had confirmed to our correspondent that the concessionaire has written to the Federal Government, offering to assist in purchasing scanners at the port. But speaking with Shipping Position Daily correspondent, a customs expert and Chief Executive of Eyis Resources Nigeria Limited, Mr. Lucky Amiwero criticized the terminal operator over the offer.Amiwero, who is also a licensed customs agent, said that terminal operators do not have the right to purchase scanners; he said the duty lies solely with the government. According to him, the scanners were not properly transferred to the Customs. He said that customs hurriedly took it over politically and that is why the machines are not working“Something must have happened to the scanners, we don’t have to buy new scanners when we have the one that can last us for another nine years. The people who bought those scanners got the money and they have done their best, the transfer process is what we need to look into. But purchasing scanners is not the duty of terminal operators, it is the government that must do it, scanners are security tools under the ministry of finance” “Terminal operators should go and focus on how to reduce the cost of doing business at their terminal” he said.