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FG May Return Private Operators to Handle Scanners at Ports

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Eight years after the Federal Government terminated the contracts of destination inspection service providers, the government has commenced fresh discussions to re-adopt public-private partnership (PPP) in the provision of scanning services at the ports.

This was part of the outcome of a recent strategic meeting between Gboyega Oyetola, minister of Marine & Blue Economy; Said Ahmed Alkali, minister of Transportation, and Adewale Adeniyi, comptroller general of Customs, geared towards enhancing port efficiency for effective trade facilitation.

According to a joint statement by the Ministry of Marine & Blue Economy and Nigeria Customs Service, the meeting agreed to explore Public-Private Partnerships to oversee the installation and maintenance of scanning technology.

The statement jointly signed by Ismail Omipidan, media aide to the minister of Marine and Blue Economy, and Abdullahi Maiwada, national public relations officer of Customs, said this will help to sustain efficiency and foster innovation in cargo inspection processes.

The seven-year Destination Inspection contract that started in 2006 was terminated on December 31, 2013, after the contract was extended for six months by the government to enable the Customs to prepare for a takeover.

Since the takeover of scanning operations by Customs, the Service has resorted to 100 percent physical examination, which is adding to the delay in cargo clearing at the port, thus the need to re-introduce the private sector in handling scanners.

The statement revealed that the meeting mandated the Comptroller General of Customs to champion and prioritise cargo scanning over traditional physical examination methods.

It further disclosed that both ministers urged Customs to rectify and optimise all existing scanners at Apapa, Tin-Can Island, Onne, and PTML, adding that the existing mobile scanners should be strategically deployed to facilitate expeditious cargo inspections.

“Against the backdrop of rail track construction, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) agreed to bypass the fixed scanner at Apapa Port to ensure the unhindered progression of the scanning process during crucial infrastructure development,” they stated.

It however said that the collaborative synergy witnessed in the meeting underscores the unwavering commitment of the Nigerian government to cultivate a conducive and efficient trade environment.

The participants also agreed that the implementation of these resolutions is poised to positively impact port decongestion, trade facilitation, and overall operational efficiency and competitiveness.

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