The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) claimed that it deployed 50 new scanners to the nation’s seaports, airports and land borders across the country to effectively manage the implementation of the new import regime, last year.
But recent revelations coming against the backdrop of complaints from stakeholders has unveiled that the scanners operated by Customs does not have the capacity to cope with the volume of cargo in the ports as the scanners keep breaking down, worsening the situation of delay in cargo clearance in the ports.
The situation is so tensed at the ports as Examination officers now have to resort to 100 percent physical examination of cargo. The demurrage this delay accumulates for shippers is unimaginable.
The recent past Comptroller General of Customs, Alhaji Dikko Inde Abdulahi, was once quoted to say that the 50 new scanners which will be deployed to the ports to complement those inherited from the service providers are highly advanced scanners that will meet up with the requirement of time.
So what went wrong? It is barely two years since these scanners were acquired by the former customs boss who had been so sure that Nigerian shippers are getting the best deal, after he discredited the 21 scanners he inherited as obsolete, to justify the whooping N38 billion contract for 50 scanners that has suddenly stopped working!
Is it that Dikko was corrupt or was it that he was misled by his so called, consultant whom he hired to confirm the state of the machines from the manufacturers. Or perhaps it is the 300 officers trained to manage the scanners at the various ports that lack the expertise and therefore damaged the scanners beyond repair.
Notwithstanding, this should serve as an eye opener for the new man at the helm of the affairs of the Nigeria Customs Service Dr. John Atte, as stakeholders watch, tongue in cheek with high expectations, that this new regime will ease the plight of shippers and bring about the much talked about trade facilitation that is in tandem with world best practices.