By Stephen Ubanna
Auwal Mohammeed, Comptroller, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, Port Harcourt Area II, Onne Command, Rivers state, is optimistic of generating more monthly revenue for the government as it has perfected arrangement to deploy its Mobile scanner equipment with x-ray facilities for the examination of cargoes at the Onne port.
The Command which took delivery of the one of the three Rapid cargo Mobile Scanning Machines of purchased by the Federal government at the cost of $8.47 billion for the Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel led , NCS, from the Asian country of China was basically to meet the demand of the importers with their agents who were not happy over the delay in the physical examination of their Containers at the ports which has not in any way helped in realizing the government objective of trade Facilitation.
The Onne Customs Comptroller may have known the tortuous processes involved in physical examination of cargoes which is time consuming and not really perfect as when examined by scanners that he had taken the bold initiative to ensure that the releasing officers were properly trained on the operation of the x-ray Scanners for accurate capturing of Images to forestall false declaration, wrong Classification, Concealment and under payment.
The Port Harcourt Area II, Customs Comptroller, may have learnt from the mistakes of the past where the Releasing officers had problem carrying out proper Image analysis with the Scanner Machines bequeathed to the service by the then service providers: Cotecna Destination Inspection Limited, CDIL, Global Scan Systems Limited , GSSL and Societe General De ‘Surveillance, SGS, that he has taken the training of the Command Releasing officers serious.
The inability of the Releasing officers to handle the high tech 22 X-ray Scanner Machines that had been built and installed by the service providers at a cost of $20 billion in examination of Containers may have informed why the country’s seaports, International Airports and the Land the Land borders became a graveyard of broken down scanners awaiting for repairs.
The PortHarcourt Area II, Customs, Comptroller, may have taken a proactive step to ensure that history did not repeat itself by ensuring that the Command Releasing officers are properly trained this time around in the handling of the Nutech product that was shipped to the port from Port of Shanghai in China , Last September.
Recall that when the PortHarcourt Area II, Command, under the close watch of Comptroller Mohammed, which overseas, the Onne port, which controls the West African Container Terminal, WACT, and offshore terminals, within and outside the port environment assured importers with their clearing agents and other industry stakeholders that if hitherto the Command Examination officers have been known to examine only one hundred Containers daily in the past which had adverse effect on its monthly revenue generation, the deployment of the scanners for cargo examination will make the difference as it will double the figure and also double the revenue collections of the Command.
The Customs Comptroller have every reason to beat his chest now that the daily and monthly revenue generations of the Command will increase significantly as he has has laid a very strong foundation and tightened areas of revenue Leakage at the port. He has equally blocked the agents who are not used to doing the right thing as they have cried out t because it is no longer business as usual. This is because officers have turned back on kickbacks insisting that ”the right thing must be done to avoid playing into the hands of the Customs Area Comptroller who do not want to hear that officers are using their position to feather nest.
Note that even without the deployment of the Rapid Mobile Scanner Machine since September, 2021 for its cargo examinations at the port, the Command, through Physical examination had generated and aid into the Federation Account N17.8 billion and N18.2 billion in August and September, 2021, respectively.
The Fraudulent importers with their agents who may be plotting ways to sabotage the operations of the new scanner maichines may have to do a rethink as they may not succeed. Aware of the plot of the agents, particular, to penetrate the ranks of the Releasing officers to do the wrong thing to show that the scanners are ineffective not may have informed why security has been tightened up at the Command exit gate.
The Onne Customs Comptroller was said to have given Mahmood Ibrahim, a Deputy Comptroller , in charge of the Command exit gate, and his officers, a matching order to drop any suspected Container released from the port at for thorough Physical Examination at the Command Enforcement Unit and subsequent issuance of Demand Notice, DN, or outright seizure of the Consignment t if it contravenes the government Fiscal policy. It is on record
It is on record that even without deploying the scanners for operations, the Command officers routine physical Examination of Containers transferred mostly from the exit gate to Enforcement Unit had seized 560 pieces of raw hides ‘unprocessed Leather, 1387 cartons of the Asian countries of India and China Manufactured Tramadol and 124 cartons of Pentadal, described as dangerous Pharmaceutical drugs and several other Contraband at the port.
Many believe that the seizure would be increase between now and December,31, 2021, as the Command perfects plans to deploy the X-ray Scanners for Container examinations expected to enhance trade Facilitation.
Determined to carry the importers with their agents along in its activities, particular, with the planned deployment of the scanner Machines for its operations the Command officials have maintained regular interaction with the Leadership of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, who had remained a pain on the neck of the of the Customs personnel, National Association of Government Approved Agents, NAGAFF, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA and other Associations representing the interests of the Agents at the ports to ensure that there will not be any problem with the deployment of the Rapid Mobile Scanner equipment for examination of Containers or physical examination of suspected Containers that may have gone through the scanner process at the port.
Perhaps, this may have informed why he has asked he analogue Customs officers attached to the Command to refreshen up and embrace the technology of the use of Mobile Scanner for examination of Containers for proper Image interpretation, prevention of mistakes and increasing their overall productivity .