The Dhaka Custom House (DCH) has put forward a proposal to install non-intrusive inspection tools worth Tk 2.14 billion at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) to ensure security and speed up passenger services.
The DCH came up with the idea as it found the country's major and largest airport ill-equipped.
The DCH made the proposal to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) recently, seeking its approval for the project as well as the fund under customs modernisation project.
In the proposal placed to NBR chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem, DCH commissioner Md Moazzem Hossain said customs officials need to use modern equipment to make the exit and entry of passengers easier, check smuggling, prevent duty evasion, intensify surveillance by intelligence team, check money laundering and mis-declaration and protect the environment.
The DCH also supervises the services of Maitry trains running between India and Bangladesh.
Talking to the FE recently, DCH commissioner Moazzem Hossain said the proposal has been designed on the basis of internal need assessment of the customs house, aiming to improve passenger services and check revenue leakage.
"We found that the existing equipment are inadequate to ensure foolproof security in the airport. An international airport should have more modern equipment," he said.
Presently, some 4.0 million international passengers and 1.0 million domestic passengers pass through HSIA a year, with nine teams of customs officials engaged in customs assessment.
According to the DCH, some 11 baggage scanners worth Tk 440 million, nine human scanners worth Tk 270 million, two vehicle scanners worth Tk 500 million, six pallet scanners worth Tk 900 million, 80 IP cameras worth Tk 30 million and six archway metal detectors worth Tk 5.0 million are needed to provide better services for the passengers at the airport.
These equipment would be used at arrival and departure halls, courier unit, Padma gate/APBN mike-3 gate, air freight unit, hanger gate and staff gate.
The DCH would need four baggage scanning machines, three human scanners and 50 pieces of IP camera in the arrival hall of HSIA, it said in the proposal.
Presently, there is no human scanner for the customs in the arrival and departure halls to detect any smuggled goods or environmental hazard inside the body of passengers, it added.
Also, the customs authority has to depend on information from sources to seize smuggled goods passing through air freight unit due to inadequate number of palette scanners. Most import-export goods pass through that unit.
The DCH feared that there is high probability of duty evasion and other fatal accidents due to non-availability of scanners in the air freight unit, a major area of revenue collection from export-import goods.
It also sought equipment for courier unit of the airport. The unit issues some 3000 bills of entry after customs assessment a day. It is also facing difficulty to scan parcels due to inadequate number of palette scanners, said the DCH.
It also said some jet fuel-carrying vehicles pass through the Padma gate close to the arrival and departure buildings.
Due to lack of vehicle scanners, customs men cannot check whether those vehicles are carrying any smuggled goods or explosives or environmental hazards, said the DCH in its proposal.