Work on scanner project for sea and land ports to begin soon
S M Jahangir
After dragging its feet for about three years, the government being assured of donors' fund has initiated a move to install full-proof scanning devices at the country's seaports and central container depot (ICD).
The installation of scanners will help stop entry of illegal arms into the country through sea and land ports and check false declarations on both export-import cargoes.
The authorities concerned are going to appoint foreign consultants to determine the specifications of scanners suitable for Bangladesh ports, official sources said.
"A process is on to appoint foreign consultants," a senior government official told the FE.
Officials said the US Agencies for International Development (USAID) has assured the government of its technical assistance to the project.
They further said the government would soon place a proposal in this regard to the USAID office in Dhaka.
Responding to a query, the official concerned said an estimated amount of US$ 200,000 would be required to support the consultants.
The main tasks of the consultants will be to carry out a feasibility study on the project and assess the implementation costs for the project, he mentioned.
On the basis of the specifications suggested by the consultants, the government will invite bid for the project, said the official.
Official sources, however, said the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is expected to provide funds for the installation of the scanning machines.
In early 2003, an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by Finance and Planning Minister Saifur Rahman decided to install six modern scanners at the country's two seaports, the inland container depot (ICD) at Kamlapur and the Benapole land port in two phases.
The meeting also decided that three such scanners - two at Chittagong seaport and another at Kamlapur - would be installed by December, 2003while three others were scheduled to be set up in July 2004.
Besides, a four-member committee, headed by Chairman of the National Board of Revenue (NBR), was formed to execute the implementation of the project.
The committee also included representatives from the Port Authority, Customs Department and NSI, according to official sources.
The meeting was told that total installation cost of six scanners, having two units each, could be between Tk 4.0 billion and Tk 5.0 billion.
According to officials, the export-import containers at both the ports and the ICD are checked manually in the absence of scanning devices. As a result, the authorities are able to inspect only 15 to 20 per cent of the containers.