Tue | Feb 18, 2020

$2b scanning system for Customs

Published:Tuesday | March 12, 2019 | 9:22 AMDanae Hyman/Online Reporter
Customs Commissioner Velma Ricketts Walker talks about the impending scanning system as state minister for foreign affairs Pearnel Charles Jnr listens - Annmarie Danvers photo

The Jamaica Customs Agency is procuring a $2-billion scanning system machine to be installed at the ports.

According to the chief executive officer of the Jamaica Customs Agency, Velma Ricketts Walker, the current system is at the end of its useful life.

But speaking yesterday during an online forum titled ‘Customs Meets the Diaspora’, Ricketts Walker sought to assure the public that the system still works.

“Even though it is not the sharpest 3D images, we are doing the best we can of it, and the system is just as good as the analyst behind it,” Ricketts Walker said.

In fact, she said the 14-year-old system was helpful in the detection of 20 firearms at the wharf in Kingston two weeks ago.

The shipment comprised four rifles, one submachine gun and 15 handguns.

Kingsley Henry, director of cargo imaging, told The Gleaner that preparations were in train to engage a consultant and the acquisition of the system should be complete in 24 months.

At the same time, the Customs boss said the agency is working with local and overseas law-enforcement officials to keep contraband out of Jamaica.

She also said the Customs was looking to upgrade the entire landscape for security at the ports.

“We are working alongside the terminal operators, as well not to only ensure we have proper machines but to ensure the CCTVs that are there work properly while we ensure that the physical security that is there gets the proper vetting services and put strict structures on them to abide,” she said.

Ricketts Walker also said the authorities were looking to close “any gaps” in the agency’s security infrastructure to “see how best we can have a corruption-free Customs,” adding that emphasis also be placed on raising awareness among customs officers.