By Godfrey Bivbere
Amidst recent upsurge in the importation of arms and ammunition into the country, maritime industry stakeholders are in tango over usage of scanners at the nation’s seaports.
While the Tin-can Island Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, claimed that they scan between 30 and 50 containers daily, the clearing agents on the other hand said that the scanners are not being used.
The Public Relations Officer of the Command, Nkiru Nwala, who told Maritime Vanguard that the claim of abandonment of the scanners is incorrect, explained that of the two scanners available, only one is working and the use of the scanner is dependent on how many containers the terminal operators are able to position for the purpose.
She stated: “It depends on how many your terminal is able to drop a day. There are things you need to understand about the mechanisms of the work in the ports.
“For example, now in APMT, customs wants to scan 100 in a day, but that can only happen based on the number of containers that APMT can drop at the time they want it. Some it is not just a decision that customs take.”
On how many containers the Command scans daily, she said, “It depends on how many containers the terminal operator is able to drop (scanning) per day. It depends on how many are at work per day. It is not like today it must be this, tomorrow it must be that. It just depends on the number of working folk-lift that they have. If it is not working for that day, they will have to repair it as many as they can because they have to also load back the container.”
Asked how many containers are scanned daily, she said “Between 30 and 50, Let us assume 50”, she concluded.
Similarly, former Chairman of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA, Apapa chapter, Tanko Ibrahim, said it is not true that the Tin-Can Customs are using the scanners because they are not in good working condition.
In his words, “The machines are not okay. If they are okay, let them use it now because they (Customs) do the maintenance. They are making money on that side and they do not want people to know that these things are not working. Okay if they are working why are they not using them?”
When asked of the possibility of the Service deliberately not using the scanner because they do not want to use scanners as they prefer 100 percent examination, he said, “I disagree with that. The scanning machine is even better than the 100 percent examination because they do not have equipment to do the examination.
“The question here is that if they do not want to use it, why did they made provision for scanning. We do not need to know why they do not want to use it but they do not want to use it because they are not good. Let them prove that they are good, we will now ask them why they are not using it.”
On claims by the Nwala that they are good and that they scan about 50 containers a day, he said “That is a bloody lie.”
Efforts to speak with APMT Communications Manager, Austin Fischer, proved abortive as he could not be reached on phone neither did he respond to a text message sent to him.