The Customs Area Comptroller (CAC) Apapa, Comptroller Abba Kura has blamed the Federal Federal Ministry of Finance for the epileptic nature of the scanning machines at the Apapa port.
DAILY TREND NEWS gathered that the scanners currently operates at 15% capacity, leaving officers to always conduct 100% examination on imported cargoes.
Speaking during a visit of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating the non-functionality of the 6 eastern Ports, the Customs boss also attributed the traffic gridlock at the ports to alleged bribery and extortion of truckers by the Presidential Task Team set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to ease traffic at the port.
Kura expressed anger that customs officers in Nigeria are being subjected to 100% examination of consignments, a practice that is not obtainable in other advanced neighboring ports.
The Comptroller alleged that a lot of politics was played with the scanners and that was why the command is yet to get functional.
Speaking he said “Yes, there was scanners but the Ministry of Finance took away the scanners to those who cannot handle it properly, and that is why it is not working, even last week some people came to check it, so it has been like that, it has been in a epileptic kind of state it will work today, and tomorrow it will just stop working so this is the situation of the scanner”.
On why the service is yet to comply with the single window directive of the Federal Government, Kura stated that single window is in place already.
He revealed that Customs service already has the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) on its platform with other relevant agencies, but not all agencies, he added that what is happening at the Nigeria port is an aberration and different from what takes place in other countries’ ports.
“What is happening in Nigeria is different from what is happening in every other ports, you can only find customs at the other ports you won’t see different multi agencies at the port, but in Nigeria we have so many agencies of government in the port and this is not good enough”
The Apapa customs boss however said that contrary to reports of congestion at Apapa ports, there was no congestion at the port but rather the problem in the port are infrastructural problems.
According to him “we have infrastructure problem in the port we don’t have congestion in the port, also lack of discipline has also contributed to this even the Vice President gave a 72 hours directive or deadline people still refuse to comply.
So many taskforce are put on the road but we have seen what they are doing, they will collect money from truckers who are not on the line and allow them access into the port and those who are on the line or transit park will remain there for weeks and this have also contributed to the issue of traffic situation in Apapa” Kura said
Hon Ossy Prestige, the honourable member from Aba North Federal Constituency, had earlier stated that the traffic gridlock at the Apapa Port is like a national embarrassment and therefore looking at how the committee can partner the customs in solving it.
The Chairman of the Committee Yussuf Buba however stated that lack of synergy between the agencies has affected the implementation of the single window platform, he thereby urge relevant agencies to synergies together to have the single window in place.
Buba also stated that the issue of bribery and extortion of truckers by the Presidential task team will be investigated and that whoever is caught would be sanctioned.
Hon Buba also assured that “The government at the highest level has been doing everything to make sure the eastern port is put to work, for instance, when you talk about dredging which is a major factor why big vessels cannot move into the eastern ports, a lot of contracts has been given out for dredging and government has been paying money.
Where we have lapses is on the part of contractors not delivering or the agencies responsible to make sure these contracts are delivered have gone to sleep.
If they have delivered or not, have they taken government money or taken public funds without delivering, that is what we will find out and other problems and make sure the ports are dredged” he said