After many years of manual examination of cargoes at the Onne seaport due to the breakdown of scanning machines, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Area ll Command, Onne Port, Rivers State, has taken delivery of a cargo mobile scanning machine for examination of cargoes.
The scanner, a product of Nuctech, was brought by Maersk Karun vessel from Shanghai in China with model number MT1213DE.
Recall that absence of scanners over the years have threatened trade facilitation, Customs revenue as well as led to importation of dangerous items such as arms, ammunition and illicit drugs into the country.
However, in a press statement by the public relations officer, Onne Customs Command, Ifeoma Ojekwu, she said the customs area controller of the Command, Comptroller Auwal Mohammed, described the arrival of the scanner as a positive milestone in the service efforts to modernise Customs operations, achieve ease of doing business, facilitate trade and enhance security with easier detection of prohibited imports.
Mohammed described the tortuous processes involved in physical examination as time consuming and may not be as perfect as when done with the scanner.
According to him, hitherto they were unable to examine more than a hundred containers daily but with the new scanner, it will be able to carry out examination on 200 containers on daily basis.
While receiving the machine, Mohammed said, “Before the arrival of the scanner, examinations of cargoes were usually done manually and physically, whereby containers were positioned by the terminal operators. Then they provide gang of labourers while officers of the Nigeria Customs Service and other agencies come for the examination.
“They cut off the seal manually, and then the contents inside containers are discharged manually by the labourers. Then, inspection or examinations are conducted by officers and other stakeholders.
“This takes time sometimes because of the packing of the good in the container; and this is an examination that is done to confirm the declaration made by the agent or importer tallies with the content of the container.
“Virtually everything has to be carried or moved out of the container, then back into the container before examination is concluded. So it is cumbersome. It is time consuming, and not much containers are properly examined on a daily basis.
“So with the coming of the scanner, which is a non-intrusive examination apparatus, examination will now be conducted with the use of x-ray.”
The Controller added that already trained Customs officers on scanning operation will undergo refresher training to update them on the latest technology.
According to him, any consignment found during image analysis to be containing suspected prohibition or concealments will be quickly referred for physical examination.
He also thanked the CGC, Hamed Ali, for his unrelenting drive in modernising the Nigeria Customs Service.