Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Finance Minister
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed on Tuesday commissioned three newly installed mobile scanners to boost operations of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
Speaking at the event, Ahmed disclosed that 120 Customs officers have been trained to operate the scanning machines, adding that the scanners would modernise the operations of the NCS in line with international best practices.
According to her, the current process of physical examination of cargoes is time-consuming, causing loss of revenue to the government and cannot be compared with the scanning of cargoes which is carried out in minutes and with enhanced capacity to detect prohibited imports that are concealed in cargoes.
She said the commissioning of the three new scanners is a milestone in the efforts to expedite Customs operations, achieve ease of doing business, facilitate trade, prevent port congestion, increase revenue generation to government and improve national security.
The minister assured that efforts are being made to procure more scanners for the seaports, land borders and airports in the country.
“This process enables more cargoes to be scanned and brings about the desired efficiency and effectiveness in Customs cargoes examinations. I, therefore, implore the management of the NCS to collaborate with the scanners contractor to ensure proper maintenance and full utilisation of the scanners within the thirty (30) months provided in the contract agreement, as well as enhanced capacity building and training of 120 NCS scanning officers,” the Minister said.
Also speaking, the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, assured that the Service will be fully responsible for the management and operations of the scanners.
“Unlike previous attempts at managing scanners, our officers have been trained up to level two maintenance capability. This ensures that the day-to-day management of these machines will be proficiently handled by our officers who have been trained and certified by the manufacturers to carry out basic maintenance.
“We appreciate our partners, the terminal operators, who have taken the pains to adjust their operations to suit the innovations of the moment. Our continuous collaboration will ensure that cargos are promptly delivered for scanning and evacuated from the ports as soon as they are certified to be compliant by our officers and other regulatory agencies,” he said.
Ali reiterated the importance of willful compliance to extant laws regarding international trade, adding that Customs is ready to assist compliant traders.
“We know that this equipment will be of special benefit to manufacturers who import homogenous items in large volumes. We also know that importers of high-risk goods will no longer have any place to hide. So we are hereby putting recalcitrant traders on notice. They either change or be ready to face the full consequence of their actions,” he added.