The House of Representatives has criticised the ongoing physical inspection of cargoes at the seaports and land borders, urging the Federal Government to install functional scanners for speed and efficiency.
The call was a sequel to the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by a member, Leke Abejide, at the plenary on Thursday.
The motion was titled ‘Need to investigate the lack of transparency in the transfer of technical know-how from Cotecna Destination Inspection Limited to Global Scan Systems Limited’.
Abejide said the House Committee on Customs and Excise recently embarked on a week-long oversight visit to Zone A Command of the Nigeria Customs Service to determine the level of revenue generation and the challenges.
He revealed that the committee discovered anomalies that if not tackled, the Nigerian ports would remain at the risk of imminent collapse.
He said, “The House is appalled by the non-functional scanners rotting away at the ports, which were meant to detect arms and ammunition concealed in containerised cargoes, further putting the country at risk of unabated security risk.
“In 2006, Nigeria acquired cargo scanners worth more than $120m and retained the service providers on Build, Own, Operate and Transfer terms.
“The contract also provided that the service providers were to provide training services and technical support 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, were completed and the scanners handed over to the Nigeria Customs Service.”
He said the modernisation in the Nigeria Customs did not last long, as a year after the handover, the scanners had stopped functioning and Nigerian ports and borders were once again returned to the analogue era of 100 per cent physical examination.”
According to Abejide, only about 40 to 60 containers are physically examined at Apapa Port daily, while between 50 and 70 are examined daily at Tin Can Island Port, but an installed scanner can take up to about 150 containers daily.
He said the committee discovered that the scanners were better in standard than the scanners in the Port of Doha, Qatar.
Adopting the motion, the House urged the Federal Government to “provide viable scanners for Nigerian ports and border stations, and in the process involve relevant stakeholders such as the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigerian Ports Authority from inception of negotiation.”
The House also mandated its Committee on Customs and Excise to “investigate the era of scanners in Nigeria, the contracts, management, cancellations, re–awards and operations, which led to the total collapse of the multimillion-dollar scanners in all the seaports and border stations.”