SOME sections of stakeholders in the shipping industry have kicked against the alleged plans to engage foreigners to manage scanning services at the nation’s seaports, following controversies surrounding the continuous use of 100 per cent manual cargo examination by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS.
The stakeholders’ opposition is a fallout of speculations making the rounds that some foreigners are presently lobbying the Federal Government to take over the management of the scanners soon to be acquired by government.
Shippers Association Lagos State, SALS, in a statement signed by its President, Jonathan Nicol, and made available to reporters, noted that such move would be counter-productive.
He stated: “We are very concerned about the speculations going on concerning the re-introduction of Destination Inspectors in our Ports again. The Nigerian Government spent huge sums to train officials of the Nigeria Customs for this same service.
“The entire Maritime Stakeholders fought hard to bring back the Nigeria Customs to conduct Destination Inspection. The equipment (scanners) handed over to the Nigeria Customs were dilapidated and was a deliberate ploy to make the Customs Service fail. And now they are scheming to return to the dark days of Destination Inspection of cargo. Shippers and importers paid compulsory one per cent surcharge – a scheme that sapped more than N28 billion every year.
“In addition, the inspectors were raising the value of goods indiscriminately. We believe it is the failure of government’s import policies that attract detractors who wish to add to the woes of port users. They want to reduce the Nigeria Customs Service to ordinary workers without having a say on revenue generation.”
Also the Vice-President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Kayode Farinto, has cautioned against the planned concession of scanning machines at the port to foreigners.
Farinto, however, condemned 100 per cent cargo examination which he said, allowed under-declaration of cargoes and importation of contraband into the country. He called on government to consider the issue of security, morality and the economy of the nation in reaching a decision on the matter.
His words, “I remember some years back when some arms and ammunition were discovered in Nigeria. It was narrowed down to some foreigners. If you allow foreigners to man our machines, the security implications of it won’t be good for Nigeria as a country,” he noted.