Bids out for port scanner system

The Cayman Islands Customs Department is seeking bids for the set up and management of a new large container X-ray scanning system for the country’s port.

The proposals, made public earlier this week, seek not only the purchase of an X-ray cargo/vehicle scanner but for design and start of operations as well.

“[The] scanner system…will not only increase efficiency with regards to inspecting a larger volume of shipping containers, but will vastly increase the Customs Department’s detection rates of prohibited and restricted items,” the bid documents read.

Customs Collector Carlon Powery announced the planned acquisition of the scanner more than a year ago and officials had once hoped to have the large container scanner operational by the end of this year.

Officials with the government’s Finance Ministry confirmed earlier this year that the customs service is “spot checking” about five per cent of the cargo containers that come into the port.

The new, large scanner will be able to handle between 75 per cent and 90 per cent of the containers that come through the port. The bid deadline for interested companies is set for 22 December.

The successful bidder will essentially act as a consultant to the government during the design and implementation phase and will remain here through the start of the scanner’s operations.

Both local and international firms will be allowed to bid on the project. The government is seeking companies with at least 10 years of project management experience in X-ray scanner systems and previous dealings with contracts in excess of $5 million.

The bid documents set no date for which the scanner system is due to be in place.

The government’s budget for the current year – which is now almost halfway through – planned on some $2.8 million being brought in over the course of the year through the use of the scanning device.

The revenues for the scanning services would be collected via bills sent to the shipping companies directly, finance officials said.

The new scanner is also expected to cut by half the budget for airport and port processing and inspections; freeing customs officers to perform other duties. It would also reduce, but not eliminate, the need for customs officers to do spot check inspections.

However, with the device not being put out to bid until now, the full benefit to government’s budget will not be realised.

Government officials had once hoped the port X-ray scanner might have been ready for service by October.

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