Determined to reduce the dwell time of cargo at the nation’s seaports, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has started perfecting plans to deploy scanners recently purchased by the Federal Government, into inspection of containers at ports.
Speaking in Lagos on Thursday during a sensitisation programme on Customs Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) Standard Operating Procedure, Saidu Galadima, assistant comptroller-general of Customs in charge of ICT/modernisation, said the Minister of Finance will soon announce the date for the starting of scanning operations at ports after all the stakeholders’ suggestions have been imputed into the system.
According to him, Customs will be running a pre-scanned regime as all containers coming into the country after the deployment will be scanned at arrival even before the cargo owner will start the process of cargo declaration.
He said the essence is to facilitate trade because if the declaration by the cargo owner matches the image analysis, the importer will have no business with physical examination and no need to interface with Customs officers.
While noting that scanners will enable Customs to scan 400 containers per day, Galadima said the service has trained qualified Customs officers to man the scanners at various ports, and the scanners will have the capacity to scan 20-foot container in 35 seconds and 40-foot container in 55 seconds.
“The system has been configured into the Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS 11) system. The main aim is to reduce physical examination and we need compliance from traders to achieve that. This is the beginning of our automation process as Customs would soon introduce end-to-end automated process,” Galadima explained.
Galadima further assured port users that the introduction of scanners in port operations will reduce cost of doing business by reducing the rate of demurrage and storage charges importers pay on containers due to delay.
He added that it will also make things easier for terminal operators by eliminating time of moving containers from the ship to stacking area and back to the scanning bay as the new regime would enable containers to be scanned at arrival, and the image analysed afterwards.
Giving insight into the SOP, Paul Ekpenyong, deputy comptroller, said Customs in all commands will run shifts – morning, afternoon and perhaps night – to enable sufficient time to avoid having traffic overflow.
“We also have understanding with the manufactures of the scanners and they have agreed to station their technical personnel in Nigeria to deal with cases of technical eventuality. If what is declared tallies with the container content, the cargo owners will be notified by the terminal operator and goods released without delay,” he said.