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Business News of Sunday, 12 September 2021

Source: punchng.com

Industry stakeholders await arrival of port scanners

File photo to illustrate the story File photo to illustrate the story

Following the growing calls for functional scanners to reduce the backlog of cargo at the ports, the Nigerian Port Consultative Forum has said scanners have been ordered but it has not seen them.

The Chairman, NPCF, Kunle Folarin, in an interview with our correspondent, said physical inspection of cargoes would continue at the ports until the arrival and installation of the scanners.

He said, “The comptroller general [Customs] has said the scanners are on their way. The scanners have been ordered but we have not seen them. In the meantime, will work on the cargoes be stopped?

“So, they will continue with 100 per cent physical examination until the scanners come. When the scanners come, we will be able to monitor installation and application because that is what importers want.”

A former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Chief Adebayo Sarumi, who also spoke with our correspondent, highlighted the inefficiency of scanners at the various ports in the country.

On the allegations that scanners were deliberately being sabotaged by Customs officials, he said, “I don’t think Customs, a government agency, will want to ensure the deliberate sabotage of scanners.

“If the government is clear about the source of the purchase of their machines, and they are sure that they are purchasing the right machines, are they also training those who will use the machines? Because it is part and parcel of cargo facilitation.

“Nigeria is a signatory to UNCTAD, which promotes the facilitation of the movement of cargo. Scanners are part of what will ensure this movement which makes a port efficient and desirable by the international shipping community.”

According to Sarumi, the inefficiency of scanners leads to cargo backlog, which is suffered by the importers.

He said, “Because not only is their cargoes delayed in the ports, they will also be made to pay more money for demurrage, and at the end of the day, the cost of bringing the cargo to Nigeria is much bigger than what it should be.

“My take on addressing this scanner issue is that the government should look at the source of the scanners, train the users, and also include a contract of servicing and repairs with the suppliers.

“If the scanners are supplied by a group of people, also give them other things to do: training, servicing and repairs. You don’t just purchase scanners without these in place.”

Sarumi stressed the need for the Ministry of Transportation to establish clear responsibilities of multiple agencies within the maritime sector.

He said, “The supervising ministry that knows the statutes that set up each and every of the agencies should be able to know their responsibilities.”