BY GABRIEL OKECHUKWU, PORT HARCOURT
The Comptroller General of Customs, retired Colonel Hameed Ali says Nigeria Customs Service has renewed offensive chase after smugglers on the water ways.
Retired Colonel Ali who made the pledge while inaugurating eighteen ballistic patrol gunboats at Borokiri Port Harcourt, as well as automobile scanners at Area Two Command, Federal Ocean Terminal Onne, Rivers State, gave assurance that the gesture will improve revenue generation.
Nine of the eighteen boats are for fast Ballistic Riverine Patrol, while nine are for versatile Logistics functions.
The Boats which are of two categories of twenty three and twenty seven feet long are fitted with two environmentally friendly four stroke engines.
To be able to carry out such operations as required, the boats also have Ballistic Protection, two general purpose Machine gun posts, Bullet Resistant Front Wind Screen glass and Modern Radar Technology and depth Transducer.
Speaking during the Inauguration, the Comptroller General of Customs, Retired Colonel Hameed Ali who expressed delight over the acquisition, maintained that Smugglers will have it hot with the introduction of the Ballistic Riverine patrol Boats.
According to the Comptroller General of Customs, many smugglers have diverted to the water ways as their escape routes hence the need to beef up security in the creeks.
“In-line with Executive Order on Local Content of 2017, NCS tapped into the ingenuity of a Nigerian Company, SEWA to design, construct and build these edifices.”
“As you can see, these boats are not only built with our weather and circumstances in mind they can compete with similar ones built anywhere in the world.”
“The relationship between NCS and SEWA represents excellent examples of what Nigerians can achieve when we come together.”
On the automobile scanners, Customs boss described it as part of the E-Customs project which is meant to facilitate transactions as the scanners have the ability to scan up-to twenty containers per hour and can function for twenty four hours.
Retired Colonel Hameed Ali noted that part of the project is to have one hundred and thirty five scanners distributed to all sea and airports across the nation to facilitate revenue generation.
He stated that with the use of the scanners, smugglers can no longer get away with false declaration as the contents of their consignments will be digitally analyzed with precision.
The CG of Customs was emphatic of the determination to block all avenues of leakages in revenue generation.
Retired Colonel Ali insisted that the scanner will eliminate delay in clearing of goods.
In his welcome address, the Chairman or SEWA West Africa Limited, the boat manufacturing company, Engineer Murtala Mohammed, explained that the contract for the boats was signed on the 15th of July 2020 but COVID 19 pandemic posed a hindrance. However, the company made concerted efforts to get them ready last year.
Engineer Mohammed while appreciating the hierarchy of Nigeria Customs, promised that the company will always be ready to collaborate with NCS to enhance their marine operations.
On his part the managing Director of the Boat manufacturing company, Mr. Ian Appleby who said the company keyed into Federal government Local content policy, expressed confidence that the engineering of the boat will meet the expectations.
“The 27ft boat being commissioned is a Series V Gun Boat, first developed for the Nigerian Navy and used by other marine security agencies such as NSCDC and Operation Delta safe.”
“Over a period of five years, we have continually improved on the crafts design and performance as the fastest boat built in its class, it is capable of reaching high speed for intercepting smugglers.”
MR. Appleby said that the company has already trained customs officers as captains of the boats.
High point of the event was a live display of the functionality of the boats on the water ways.