The Department of Customs has planned to buy at least two more container scanners even though the two installed at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu and the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Birgunj are lying unused for lack of competent operators.
The x-ray scanning equipment allows inspectors to see through shipping containers at the goods inside thus helping to speed up manifest verification and customs clearance. The Customs Department said that the move was aimed at mechanizing the customs office and reducing the time taken to clear containers.
Director General of the Customs Department Shishir Kumar Dhungana said that he had issued the order to prepare the technical specifications for the purchase of the equipment.
The existing container scanners could not be used properly due to lack of technical support, the department said. The scanner at TIA has been lying idle for the last 11 years while the one at the ICD has not been functioning properly for the last few years.
Dhungana said that the department would train customs staff to use the container scanners so that they can use them properly. The department has proposed to install the machines at customs offices where a high level of revenue leakage has been seen.
“We will also make efforts to have the existing scanners back in operation if they can still be fixed,” he said. “I think the technology used in the scanner at the airport might be outdated.”
Besides purchasing container scanners, the department has planned to acquire half a dozen baggage scanners at a cost of Rs 7-8 million each. There are six such scanners installed at TIA, and the department proposes to send the remaining one to the customs office at Kanchanpur. The new baggage scanners will be used at major customs offices around the country.
Similarly, the department intends to buy around 10 new vehicles to be used by key customs offices. “Even customs officers are forced to travel in confiscated autos for lack of the department’s own vehicles, and it looks somewhat odd,” said Dhungana.
According to him, automobiles confiscated by the Customs Department are being used by other government offices too. Customs offices around the country seize around 100 smuggled vehicles annually. They are auctioned off periodically.