By Kenneth Jukpor
Amid plans by the federal government to acquire scanners at the seaports, a former President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Prince Olayiwola Shittu has decried excessive politicking in the process.
Shittu, who was speaking as a guest on the maiden roundtable of the League of Maritime Editors and Publishers (LOMEP), argued that the government should relinquish the burden of providing and maintaining scanners to terminal operators.
According to the former ANLCA President, the scanner issue in the country has been highly politicized because everybody sees it as an opportunity to make money.
“When you’re a political figure you should contribute by making policies. You shouldn’t also seek to implement and the also enforce the policy. There was a presentation we made at the National Assembly to explain why this will not work because no agency would like to indict itself.”
“I hear people saying Customs sabotaged the scanner systems, but Customs came in at the latter stage. It was Cotecna that was handling it before. Even with the scanners because of the quality, we’re still made to do 100% examination. What is the advantage of the scanners? Now we hear that some Senators were interested in the purchase of new scanners but you can imagine how many years we have waited for the scanners to come and we are still waiting,” Shittu said.
He noted that in Ghana and some other countries, terminals are responsible for provision and maintenance of scanners and the process has been efficient and seamless.
“We had the opportunity to meet the Customs CG of Ghana, he said their law is tailored like Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA). The system is such that every terminal provides the needs of Customs, housing, offices, scanners and everything interwoven. The only time a custom broker is needed in Ghana port is when a consignment is suspected and liable to seizure or additional payment,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shittu berated Customs for not punishing its officers who release consignments that are seized on the port access roads and other highways by other Customs units like the Federal Operations Unit (FOU).
He also lamented that the electronic truck call-up system (Eto) introduced by Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) became a tool of political maneuvering within the maritime industry.
Speaking on the recently launched Nigerian Ports Process Manual (NPPM), Shittu noted that a committee of port stakeholders should have been engaged to figure out the operations of port agencies and companies instead of having the organizations put forward their SOPs which don’t reflect the reality of their operations.