Despite the acquisition and deployment of scanners to the Apapa, Tin-Can Island, Lagos and Onne seaports Port Harcourt, by the federal government to speed up cargo inspection and quick evacuation of cargoes from the seaport, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), is yet to make the equipment operational at the various entry points into the country.
The expectations that the deployment would bring a positive shift in cargo clearance, eliminate delays and enhance timely delivery of cargoes to owners by clearing agents have, however, been dashed as the service still performs 100 percent examination on cargoes.
With 100 percent examination, importers incur huge demurrage charges from shipping companies and storage charges from terminal operators.
Speaking on the absence of scanners at the ports, the chairman of the Nigerian Port Consultative Forum (NPCF), Kunle Folarin, said the burden of the demurrage incurred by importers or consignees due to the lack of scanners at the ports, will be passed to the consumer, which will create another level of inflation in the economy.
He said while Customs have settled for 100 per cent physical examination and inspection of cargoes, they would sabotage all efforts at ensuring scanners arrive and are installed at the ports due to the huge money they get illegally.
Also speaking, the president, Shippers Association of Lagos (SALS), Rev. Jonathan Nicol, said Nigeria loses over N800 billion monthly due to lack of 24-hour seaport operation and about N9.6 trillion lost in a year.
According to Nicol, the port is a money-spinning machine, as payments are daily made to shipping companies, terminal operators, customs, transporters, Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in the ports.
“If one is bringing out 1,000 containers, add the customs duty, shipping and terminal charges, transportation, and even under-the-table transactions, then you will understand the amount involved,”