07 December 2013, Sweetcrude, Lagos – In order to ensure efficiency in scanning of containers under its new Pre-Arrival Assessment Report, PAAR, regime, the Nigeria Custom Service has expressed its readiness to import 50 modern scanners that will be deployed to various ports across the country.
These according to the Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Alhaji Dikko Abdullahi Inde, is to be imported over the next five years to complement the existing 21 scanners that were inherited from the three destination inspection service providers; Cotecna, SGS, and Global Scan Systems.
Addressing a press conference at the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone ‘A’ in Ikeja, Dikko said that out of the 21 scanners that were inherited from service providers, only few of are functioning.
He added that the ones that are functional are not also functioning properly.
Shedding more light on the true nature of the scanning machines, the CGC alleged that: “In the last seven years, the service providers were only able to provide 21 scanners”
“During the transition process, we hired a consultant to help us ascertain the condition of these scanners, we also went to the manufacturers again to verify the status of these scanners, we discovered that the scanners are actually obsolete as at today, they are not scanners that will deliver the vision of the Comptroller General, but we still have to take over what we met on ground”, he stressed.
Speaking further, he added that: “The CGC has already drawn a five-year plan where 50 scanners will be supplied, the plan is already ongoing and the scanners are highly advanced scanners”
He lampooned the service providers for always trying to downplay the efforts and capacity of the Customs in handling the destination inspection scheme.
According to him, at the end of every contract, while lobbying for contract extensions, service providers peddle rumours before Federal Government that Customs is not ready.
But, Dikko cleared that as part of the strategic plans to make customs independent; the service had trained more than 14, 000 officers in readiness for the take-over.
He said that out of the trained numbers, 350 young, ICT-savvy officers were deployed to operate the issuing of the PAAR, while additional 300 officers were deployed for the handling of the scanning machines.
“But these service providers have been in and around us for over 30 years, and at the end of every contract, they come out with statements that Customs are not ready”, he lamented.
Dikko assured that with the taking over of destination inspection and the use of PAAR, the one percent revenue on import which was hitherto collected by service providers will now accrue to the Federal Government.
The Customs boss allayed all fears and anticipated hitches in the newly developed PAAR system, saying that the service is equal to the task and that back-ups have been created in case of eventuality.
He assured that the service is still going to embark on classroom teachings and further sensitization of all freight forwarders, importers and the trading community.
Dikko said that the PAAR sensitization campaign is now moving to the Eastern zone where it will be hosted by the executive Governor of Anambra State, as well as to the Northern Zone.