Group Executive Vice Chairman of SIFAX Group; Dr. Taiwo Afolabi has tasked the Federal Government on the need to prioritize provision of scanners at the nation’s seaports. He said this has become imperative in view of recurrent cases of illegal arm importation into the country through the seaports.
He expressed displeasure that the Federal Government is slow in addressing the problem of faulty scanners at the port. He added that non-availability of scanners has compelled men of the Nigeria Customs Service to resort to 100 percent physical examination of cargo.
Afolabi said this in a statement issued yesterday in Lagos by the Corporate Affairs Manager of SIFAX Group; Mr Muyiwa Akande.
According to Afolabi, subjecting containers to 100 per cent examination may compromise national security.
Recall that, 2,671 various types of arms were seized by the Nigeria Customs Service on four occasions at the Tin Can Island Port, Apapa this year alone. Turkey has been identified as the country of origin of these illegal importations.
On this, the Sifax Group boss noted that: “Within eight months, the number of illegal arms that have been imported into the country through the port is staggering and distressing. I am convinced that the absence of needed facilities like the scanner at the ports is what has emboldened these unpatriotic criminals to keep importing these arms. There is little that the Customs can do to prevent this when they are not well equipped”
“I am worried that the Federal Government has not shown the kind of swift response and decisiveness that this illegal importation demands. The way to go is to urgently provide scanners at the port.”
Apart from the likelihood of compromising national security, Afolabi also said lack of facilities will hinder the economic direction of the government as captured in the Ease of Doing Business executive order signed months ago by the then acting President; Yemi Osinbajo.
He lamented that cargo clearing process under the present condition would remain cumbersome and make Nigerian ports unattractive and lacking competitive edge.
Afolabi recommended that in the face of dwindling revenue accruable to the government, private sector financing is an option to address the problem of lack of scanners.
“I have been an advocate of concessioning the port scanning services in the country. The country is just exiting recession and the government does not have the financial muscle to undertake this kind of huge capital investment. Just like the government concessioned the seaports in 2006, which has yielded great results and turned the maritime sector around, the concessioning of the port scanning services will also help in improving efficiency at the port and curb the dangers associated with 100% physical examination currently being embarked upon by men of the Nigeria Customs Service.
“I want to urge the government to expedite action in the concessioning of scanning services at the ports. The terminal operators are capable of investing in the scanning services to create more revenue for the country, curb the importation of arms and other dangerous cargoes into the country and also make the Ease of Doing Business Executive Order successful”, he explained.