The Dhaka Customs House has requested the National Board of Revenue to provide human body scanners and other non-intrusive inspection equipment for the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to strengthen security, expedite movement of air passengers and check smuggling, duty evasion and any possible sabotage.
In a recent letter to National Board of Revenue chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem, DCH commissioner Md Moazzem Hossain said that currently there was no human body scanner at the airport while the number of baggage scanners was not adequate for conducting proper scanning of passengers’ luggage and import-export goods. In the letter sent on January 21, Moazzem gave an estimate cost of Tk 214.50 crore for the required non-intrusive inspection equipment that included 11 baggage scanners, nine human scanners, two vehicle scanners, six pallet scanners, 80 IP cameras and six archway metal detectors.
He said that the equipment was required to ease arrival and departure process of passengers, prevent smuggling of goods and fake currency, explosives, check duty evasion and ensure security of the country. The use of NII equipment and technology at the highest level is required to ensure the best services to passengers and check illegal activities, including smuggling and misdeclaration in import and export, he wrote in the letter. According to a report on the current situation of non-intrusive inspection equipment, there is no human body scanner at arrival hall, departure hall and other entry and exit points under the DCH.
Customs authorities often need to scan suspicious passengers’ body to check whether they are carrying any smuggled and prohibited goods, and other goods hazardous to health and environment. Currently, customs officials solely depend on intelligence and outsiders’ information on the risks. They conduct X-ray outside the airport if the passenger admits carrying smuggled goods like gold, officials said.
Modern human canners can detect such goods hidden in the body, they said. There are two baggage scanners at arrival hall, which is not sufficient to provide quick services to passengers, according to the report. Customs can also not scan luggage of international passengers coming from abroad via the Chattogram airtport as there is no scanner at the departure hall of domestic terminal.
There is no baggage scanner at the departure hall for international passengers although the civil aviation has scanners at the departure hall. At least three human scanners and four new baggage scanners for the arrival hall, and two human scanners and two baggage scanners for the departure hall are required considering the number of passengers and luggage, the report said.
Around 40 lakh international passengers and 10 lakh domestic passengers use the airport to travel home and abroad while traders and individuals import and export goods weighing 3 lakh tonnes through the port.
The DCH carries out the customs procedures at the port. The report said that there was only one pallet scanner at the air freight unit through which import and export goods were transported. Customs officials used to wait for intelligence information about smuggling through the air freight unit as it is not possible to scan all shipments using only one pallet scanner, it said, adding that it least three more pallet scanners were required for the unit which was most important in terms of revenue protection. There is no pallet scanner at the courier unit through which a large amount of small parcels are released every day under around 3,000 bills of entry.
The report also said a vehicle scanner was also needed for the Padma gate through which vehicles carrying fuel for airlines were run to check whether the vehicles were carrying any prohibited goods, explosives and harmful products for environment.
Customs officials also cannot scan the baggage and body of staff and crew working at the airport and various airlines as there is no scanner at the staff gate through which staff and crew enter and exit to and from the airport. No checking of vehicles and goods is carried out at the hanger gate as the existing scanners remains out of date at almost all the time, the report said, adding that at least a vehicle scanner, a baggage scanner and a human scanner were required for the gate.