Scanner provision: Customs set to woo private investors

L-R: Comptroller Jane Shoboiki, DCG Umar Sanusi, and Comptroller Yusuf Bashar

Nigeria Customs Service is said to be considering wooing private investors into provision of scanners in the ports and borders with mouth-watering financial gains which may accrue to them depending on the volumes of cargo handled by the ports or borders allocated to them.  

The proposal, which was made known by Comptroller Yusuf Bashar, a former Customs Area Controller of Tincan Island Area Command of Nigeria Customs Service, at an interactive session on port operation challenges organized by the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (GATF) in Lagos last week, is geared towards helping the Customs overcome its inability to provide scanners and also to guarantee improved ports services and minimize time being spent in physical examination.

According to Comptroller Yusuf Bashar, ”any investor that can venture into the provision of scanners at all our ports and border stations, with the volume of import/export activities taking place in Nigeria, a 60billion naira per annum gain awaits such investors, at just a thousand naira per scanning.”

Apart from non-availability of scanners in the ports and borders which has hindered trade facilitation, participants at the event noted that interagency rivalry amongst all the security and government agencies caused havoc to trade facilitation as every agency wants to perform the same functions differently whereas they are all supposed to be working together at the same time.

The agencies were advised to cooperate and collaborate by working together to minimize delays, save time and costs too.

According to the participants, non-involvement of stakeholder in policy formulation for the industry by the government is responsible for inconsistency and eventual failure of the policy which slows down trade facilitation and overall growth of the industry.

They were of the view that government needs essentially to always engage stakeholders at policies formulation stages.

The participants reiterated that need for government to speed up action on the single window project. ”Enough political will is required to introduce the one- stop- shop single window project, as a panacea for the myriads of unnecessary interruptions and delays in cargo clearance,” said the participants.

Ruing the poor condition of port access roads, the noted ”the terrible state of the ports access roads is the singular largest contributor to delays and high cost in cargoes clearance activities at international borders militating seriously against trade facilitation.”

They averred that quick government’s intervention in the state of the roads will surely impact positively on the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

They maintained that absence of a dynamic and regularly updated data for analytics of imports and exports has also hampered profiling of port users and development of ports facilities to sustain trade facilitation. ”A deliberate collection of data on all aspects of cargo clearance enables a progressive system of sustaining transparency and consistency at all international borders.”

They called for regular capacity building for all stakeholders involved in the cargo delivery processes, especially Nigeria Customs Service personnel.

The theme of the event is “Simplification, Standardization and Harmonization of export and import formalities and trade procedures.”

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