By NBF News
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Delay in the full installation of fixed scanners at the Tin-Can Island Port, Lagos, has been attributed to standard procedures by the United States of America (USA), in granting the importation of some component elements required for the effective use of the ultra modern x-ray equipment.

This explanation was offered by the management of Cotecna destination Inspection Limited, the service providers who are in charge of inspection and risk profiling of imported goods, just as the Nigeria Customs Service says the take-over of the former Government Warehouses by the terminal operators had created space constraints at the Lagos seaports.

Vice President and Contract Manager of Region 1, Cotecna South Africa, Mr. Alpha Sy, who offered the explanation while conducting the Minister of Finance, Dr Olusegun Aganga, round the site at the port recently, lamented that the equipment had earlier been installed, only to be ravaged by a strange fire, which occurred at the site two months ago.

He said the company had immediately embarked on the reconstruction of the facility, which is now completed but awaiting the necessary approval from the American authorities to ship the items into Nigeria.

'The issue is not the site itself, which has been completed, but the fact that the equipment got burnt. A new one is being shipped through a company from the United States of America.

'The US authorities, through the Homeland Security department, are requesting for a certain certificate before they can actually approve the export of certain components of the x-ray elements. I am sure they will soon grant the approval, so this is why we are having a little delay,' he told the minister.

Responding to the Minister's enquiry on the options, Mr. Sy said the company had to fall back on the mobile scanners as alternative for now, pointing out that 'there is a temporary site where we have an established mobile scanner operations going on with the full cooperation of the customs officials.'

He, however, assured that with the expected equipment from America, the installation will be completed by September this year. 'According to the agreement, we are supposed to deliver fixed scanners to Tin Can port 18 months after the commissioning of that of Apapa.

Also speaking in the same vein when the Minister's inspection team arrived at Apapa port, Managing Director of Cotecna Nigeria, Mr Tayo Rabiu, pointed out that the Customs officers handling the fixed scanners were amongst the team that were trained since 2006, when the mobile operations commenced.

He, however, pointed out that the major constraint against the fixed scanner operation was that of space, adding that 'container-bearing trucks cannot come in until we release those that have been scanned due to space constraint.'

Also corroborating the Cotecna boss, Apapa port customs Area Controller, Abdulkadir Azarema, noted that at the moment an average of 100-150 containers were scanned daily, and expressed the hope that the company could handle not less than 400 containers when the space issue is addressed.

'We are still having this problem of space. Trucks are being scanned but they are not evacuated, so others cannot come in', he added.

He revealed that for now, the Customs in alliance with Cotecna, had to make do with the available spaces where they carry out groupage container stacking.

The Customs chief also lamented the absence of a warehouse at the port for the up keep of certain category of imports that required temporary safe-keeping.