Nigeria – The House of Representatives has reiterated commitment to achieving a fully automated custom service system in the country.
The Speaker, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila stated this at a public hearing organised by the House Committee on Customs and Excise in Abuja.
Mr. Gbajabiamila represented by the Chairman House Committee on House Services, Mr. Wale Raji expressed worry that despite huge funds invested in providing scanners to automate the clearing processes at the Nation’s point of entries most of the machines procured stopped functioning barely after a year.
He said “In 2006, Nigeria acquired cargo Scanners worth more than US$120million, and retained the service providers on build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) terms.
The contract also provided that the service providers will provide training and technical support services to the Nigeria Customs Service on risk management, valuation and classification. By the end of 2013, the transition process from COTECNA, SGS Scanning Nigeria Limited, and Global Scan Systems Nigeria Limited, the former service providers, was completed and the Scanners handed over to the Nigeria Customs service.
However, within a year of the handover, the scanners had stopped functioning and Nigerian Ports and Borders were once again returned to the analogue process of physical examination.”
Earlier the Chairman, House Committee on Customs, Mr. Leke Abejide said the scanners, if functional, will check the influx of ammunition and other illegal items into the country as well as address the issue of economic sabotage.
“Our purpose here today is to ascertain what happened to those machines, and to determine why despite the massive investments in the sector, we did not achieve the modernization objectives that motivated the investment.
The practice of physical inspection is time consuming and ineffective. It also contributes to the delays at the Ports and border points and allows for prohibited goods to enter the country despite the best efforts of custom officers.
It is therefore an untenable status quo, and it must change.” Mr. Abejide stressed.
The committee was investigating the lack of transparency in the transfer of technical know-how from Cotecna Destination Inspection Limited to Global Scan Systems Limited for the Nigerian Customs Service.
The scanners, which were installed at various Customs Operation locations such as Tin-Can Island Port, Apapa, Port Harcourt Area One Command, Onne Port, Aminu Kano International Airport, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Seme and Idi-Iroko borders, Port Harcourt and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, among others, are still currently non-functioning.
This compelled the Custom Services to revert to manual inspection of imported goods, causing delay at the entry points, in contravention to Executive Order of Ease of Doing Business and compromising the nation’s security.VoN