For the Federal Government to achieve the mandate of 24 hours port operations issued as part of the Ease of Doing Business Executive Order recently signed by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the scanners at the nation’s ports must be kept functional.
According to Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Group Executive Vice Chairman, SIFAX Group, the scanners in most ports across the country are in a state that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the Nigerian Customs Service to discharge its duty of container inspection effectively.
He said: “Most scanners at our ports are either completely broken down or functioning well below installed capacity. This has left the personnel of the Nigerian Customs Service with no other option than to do 100 percent physical examination of cargoes. This comes with huge difficulties and impedes quality and efficient service delivery that the Ease of Doing Business executive order is trying to address.”
In order to address the problem of faulty scanners, Afolabi urged the Federal Government to consider the option of concessioning as the current economic reality in the country has made it impracticable for the government alone to shoulder the responsibility of infrastructure provision in critical sectors of the economy.
“The model of concessioning is already a success in the maritime sector. The last 11 years of private sector involvement in port terminal management has brought great improvement to service delivery. I am convinced that such feat could be extended to the scanning service if the Federal Government gives private investors the opportunity of managing the process,” he said.
Aside the improvement in service delivery, Afolabi also noted that functional scanners at the ports are necessary for national security in view of the recent cases of illegal arms importation through the nation’s sea ports. He argued that such illegal importation would have been discovered during cargo examination with the aid of functional scanners.
Afolabi also backed the resolve of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to strictly enforce the approved number of security and government agencies at the ports, adding that such would greatly help fulfil the ease of doing business mandate.