Abuja — The House of Representatives has called on the federal government to install scanning machines at various seaports across the country.
The House gave the directive following the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance brought by Nicholas Ossai, who lamented that most scanners at various ports across the country are no longer functional.
He said between 2006 and 2013, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) entered into a contract with three companies-service providers-got the provision, install, operate and manage the X-ray scanning machines and computerised management for the examination of goods at the various ports. Ossai explained that all the installed scanners had broken down, saying there are no functional scanners in all the port at the moment.
The Delta State federal lawmaker also decried the infrastructure decay and the frustration experienced daily by importers and exporters, noting that it often leads to unnecessary demurrage and incurring of other charges by port users.
Ossai stressed that the economic importance of NCS makes it reprehensible that in the age of fast technological development, Customs is still engaging in physical examination of persons and cargos at the country's seaports and border stations.
He added that scanners, particularly cargo scanners, allow for easy detection of contrabands as well as promote efficient inspection of consignment, which in turn contribute immensely to the ease of doing business at the port. According to him, "At the moment, Nigerian ports are not business-friendly, which has made ports in neighboring countries take over activities that are supposed to be done by Nigerian ports.
"Lack of good scanning machines in ports obviously leads to port congestion, reduction in business activities, delay in clearance, cumbersome and time consuming, loss of revenue, all these impact negatively on trade facilitation."
Ossai stated categorically that the rate of crime and the level of intelligence applied in perpetuating crime in the various ports cannot be overcome by mere physical examination.
He, therefore, stressed that the absence of scanning machines at the various ports expose the country to unmitigated influx of dangerous items, including arms and ammunition.
In his contribution, the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, described the motion as very important, adding that if the country has functioning scanning machines, there won't be illegal ammunition circulating round the country, because scanning machines would have helped out.
On his part, Hon. Bamidele Salam said if the scanners are effective, it would go a long way to save manpower.
In his submission, Sergious Ogun said: "This is what some of us have always emphasised in the House. If you allow the Customs to use their discretion that is where corruption comes in."
The House, therefore, mandated the House Committee on Ports and Harbours to urgently organise a one-day stakeholders' meeting in order to install scanning machines in the country's ports.