In line with its determination to deliver on the seven-year Destination Inspection (DI) contract entered into with the Federal Government in 2005, Global Scansystem, one of the DI service providers in Nigeria, has delivered the N1.9 billion fixed scanner built by the company at Seme Border.
The scanner, which was built to enhance security checks on all Nigerian-bound cargoes coming in through the Seme Border post and improve on the revenue generated from imports, is ready to commence full operation after the issuance of environment safety certificate by the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA) which has carried out Technical Site Acceptance Test on the equipment and certified it safe.
Also, the fixed scanner has the capacity to scan 480 trucks per day on three shifts of eight hours each. It was built and installed by Smiths Heimann of France and Germany to give an additional capacity to the mobile scanner that has been in operation since 2006 at Seme.
Fred Udechukwu, managing director of Global Scansystem Limited, said during the Site Acceptance Test that the delivery of the fixed scanner at Seme Border marked the completion of the contract which the company entered into with the government on Build, Operate and Transfer basis.
According to him, the fixed scanner can scan trucks of large sizes and will therefore also address the issue of over-sized trucks which affected truck scanning at Seme Border in the past because they were difficult for the initial mobile scanner to capture – that is, until Customs compelled truck owners to reduce the size of their trucks to be able to pass through the mobile scanner.
He said that the only indigenous DI service provider was expected by the contract terms to provide eight scanners (mobile) in the allotted points in Murtala Mohammed International Airport and Port Harcourt Airport, Warri, Calabar PTML and Port Harcourt seaports, including a fixed scanner at Seme Border post.
Close industry stakeholders who spoke to BusinessDay commended the effort of the indigenous service provider for its commitment in the delivery of its mandates as agreed in the contract.
Audu Mohammed, representative of NNRA, said the findings from the environment-friendliness test carried out shows that the equipment is safe for people such as workers to come close to it and operate it while carrying out risk assessment of imports.
On the test, he said NNRA had to check for features starting from system review to ensure that the scanned images were in perfect condition as well as to ascertain that the radiation emitted by the equipment was not harmful radiation that could endanger people’s lives.
Batari Musa, chairman, Technical Committee on Comprehensive Import Supervision Scheme (CISS), said the committee was satisfied with the progress recorded so far by Global Scansystem in delivering on the contract terms, adding that they would also commend the service provider when it is finally issued a certificate by the NNRA in the near future.
At the completion of the Technical Acceptance Test by NNRA, he said, the authority is expected to write a report which will also pass the due process in the civil service before the certificate will be given to Global Scan.
Tony Nwabunike, a freight forwarder, who commended Global Scansystem for doing a great job in facilitating trade at the nation’s economic gateway, said indigenous companies, such as Global Scansystem which has shown integrity in service delivery, should be encouraged by government to do more in not only building the economy but also creating jobs at a time the nation is determined to make local content work.
He further urged the government to ensure that all the imports coming through the border are adequately scanned to avoid any unforeseen security risk, especially at this time the country is battling serious internal security issues.
“Importers should be sensitised to do the right thing and to know that the era of importing offensive goods that will negate the security of the country has gone. I am impressed with the operation of this fixed scanner put in place by Global Scansystem. It is sophisticated, brand new unlike what we see in some places, and with that all these security threats will be properly checked,” Nwabunike added.
BusinessDay findings, however, show that Customs prefers physical examination to scanning, thereby leading to the underutilisation of the multi-billion naira equipment, even as the Global Scan boss has said it does not take more than five minutes to scan a truck provided proper documentation was made by the agents.
“Given the security situation in country, all trucks passing through the land border are supposed to be scanned to ensure that dangerous imports like arms and ammunition are not brought into the country, but it is only the trucks that are allocated to us by officers of Nigerian Customs that we scan,” he explained.
On the issue of underutilisation of the scanners, Gombe Abba, Customs officer in charge of Admin at the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Seme Border, said Customs has the responsibility to send trucks for scanning when agents or importers present their trucks; but if no trucks are available, Customs will not manufacture trucks themselves.
Reacting to the allegation that Customs prefers 100 percent physical examination to scanning, he said: “That is absolute misconception as scanning has been going on here in Seme such that about 120 trucks were scanned last week, while physical examination is conducted only when a truck is suspected to be carrying dangerous cargo.”