From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
Ahead of the procurement of scanners, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is planning to deploy endoscopic cameras for physical inspection of cargoes that would require 100 per cent physical examination, as a measure against Covid-19 spread and to enhance cargo clearance at the ports.
This was disclosed by the Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Anthony Anyalogu, during a virtual meeting organised by Ships & Ports on “Enhancing cargo clearance operation in Nigeria during Covid-19”.
Anyalogu noted that while the agency cannot completely stop physical examination of cargoes because of the high risk imports, it would introduce endoscopic cameras for cargoes that require physical examination, to reduce physical contact and speed up inspection.
According to him, “during this Covid-19 period, the experts have told us that we should try to avoid contact.
“That was customs’ idea that for us to prevent spread of the virus, we must do our processes with less contact, and that means we should increase the number and percentage of goods that go into scanning and green lane, which means no customs examination.
“So, what we are doing now is to decrease the number of containers that will go into physical examination while we try to increase the percentage of goods that go into green and blue lanes.”
Anyalogu, who represents the NCS at the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), explained that since the agency cannot stop physical examination, a replacement was imperative because it is mostly goods that are more susceptible to non-compliance that are physically examined.
“We are planning to procure endoscopic cameras that could be used to inspect the containers to reduce offloading, physical contact, and increase speed, apart from scanners that take a long time to procure”, he explained.
Similarly, he disclosed that the number of alerts from customs transcripts at the ports has reduced to 10 per cent following the automation of customs processes with NICIS II before the pandemic, and which allows importers and agents to make declaration and pay import duty online.
According to Anyalogu, “we have the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) that is done through the bank and comes in before the shipment arrives, and you don’t need to come to customs.
“Most of the customs processes are now delivered at the trader zone, which means you don’t have to go to customs to do them. Before now, if you want to do declaration, payment and assessment of duties, you come to customs, but the NICIS platform allows importers and agents to carry out their declarations in the comfort of their offices.”