Service providers commence mass sack over destination inspection management

Tin Can Island portToju Vincent

07 December 2013, Sweetcrude, Lagos – FOLLOWING the take over of Destination Inspection by the Nigeria Customs Service, no fewer than 950 workers of the three service providers under the Destination Inspection, DI, scheme have been pencilled for sack by the end of this month.

Investigation revealed that Cotecna Destination Inspection Limited, CDIL, Global Scan Systems Limited, GSSL, and SGS Nigeria Limited, have concluded plans to lay off a sizable number of their workers due to the takeover of their functions under the DI scheme by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS.

The Customs Comptroller-General, Dikko Inde Abdullahi, announced on Friday that the Federal Government had directed the NCS to assume full responsibility of operating the scanners and issuing the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report, PAAR, in place of the Risk Assessment Report, RAR, hitherto issued by CDIL, GSSL and SGS.

“Today is a historic day in Nigeria because the Federal Government in its own wisdom has directed NCS to fully takeover the Destination Inspection process from the service providers. The implication of this is that NCS will now fully take over imports and exports procedures of our dear country,” Abdullahi announced in Abuja last Friday.

It would be recalled that Federal Government in 2005 signed a seven year contract agreement with the three destination inspection service providers. The agreement, which commenced in January 2006, was for the supply, operation and maintenance of cargo scanning machines on build, own, operate and transfer basis, BOOT.

The contract also provided for the service providers to issue import risk assessment reports and train officers and men of the NCS on risk management valuation and classification, to enable them take over the destination inspection operation from the service providers after seven years.

However, acting on the recommendations of the Federal Ministry of Finance, President Goodluck Jonathan, approved extension of the contracts for an initial period of six months in January and another six months extension in July this year.

Justifying the service providers’ contract extension, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said: “The subsequent assessment by the Ministry showed that the Service (NCS) had made progress in some areas, but there were still significant gaps that needed to be filled .This was the basis for the initial six-month extension approved by the President in December 2012.

According to the ministry, the World Bank was commissioned at no cost to government, to carry out an honest assessment of the readiness of both service providers to hand over and Customs to take over the DI operation.

“The detailed assessment by the World Bank revealed more progress on reforms but indicated areas of risk to the economy if the new systems put in place are not properly piloted to ensure that they work optimally before being spread to the rest of the economy.”

A top management staff of Global Scan Systems Limited informed SHIPS& PORTS DAILY that the company’s workforce of over 300 staff will have to be trimmed to only about 20 in order to reduce its overhead.

“We can’t keep the workers. They are aware that their employment was based on a seven-year contract we had with the Federal Government and we have even ran the contract for eight years. We can’t keep the huge workforce any longer since the contract is over,” the GSSL staff who did not want to be named said.

A top management staff at CDIL also confirmed that more than 95 per cent of the company’s workforce are being laid off. He said CDIL had since last year prepared its workers, numbering about 450, for their inevitable disengagement at the end of the DI contract. While no official confirmation could be obtained at SGS, an official of the company informed SHIPS & PORTS DAILY that while the company has signed a contract with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, for the implementation of the SON Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP), it is still doing away with more than 60 per cent of its workers since “the destination inspection scheme is its major engagement in Nigeria”.

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