By Godfrey Bivbere
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has blamed the under-utilisation of scanning machines at Seme border post on the unwillingness of importers and their agents.
Speaking during the technical-site inspection of Global Scan’s new fixed scanner at Seme, Deputy-Comptroller of Customs, Abba Gombe, said there is nothing Customs can do in a situation where an importer or his agent is unwilling to present their truck for scanning.
“The process of scanning starts from the agents. If an agent comes forward with his truck, our officers are on ground to ensure that it is scanned. However, in a situation where trucks are not presented by an importer or his agent, you cannot go and look for a truck. I learnt that in a week, about 120 trucks were scanned; the moment you have adequate work to do, you perform it,” he stated.
Bello noted that the scanner, which has an installed capacity to scan 20 containerised trucks per hour or 160 trucks per shift of eight hours, currently processes on average, 120 trucks per week.
The Customs boss also described the new technology as both a facilitator of trade and tool for enforcing government policy on tax evasion and security. Similarly, an agent who spoke with Vanguard on condition of anonymity gave reasons why agents evade scanning process.
According to him, agents like to pack their goods in bulk; hence they modify trucks to carry two to three container-loads of cargo.
“Also, these trucks have been designed to be larger than what most scanners can accommodate, allowing them to minimise duties payable as they opt for manual inspections,” he said. Asked if Customs performs 100 per cent examination on each truck he responded, “Not all the time. Most often we work something out between ourselves.”