Large x-ray scanner sought for port

The Cayman Islands Customs
Department issued bids last week for an x-ray scanner planned for use at the
George Town port to aid in searches of large incoming and outgoing containers.

Earlier this year the customs
service obtained the services of Etamic International Ltd to assist in
consulting and initially managing the x-ray scanner project.

Etamic will
essentially guide customs officials through buying, installing, commissioning,
and operating the x-ray scanner system.

“The [request for proposal] issued
Thursday is to procure the actual x-ray equipment, which is part of the second
phase of the project,” said Assistant Customs Collector Jeff Jackson.

third phase of the project is the construction of a proposed building facility
to store the x-ray equipment along with a command and control station for the
equipment operators.”

The deadline to submit bids for the
new x-ray scanner system is set for 21 April.

“[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,” bid documents for the initial management
contract read. 

Customs Collector Carlon Powery
announced the planned acquisition of the scanner nearly two years ago and
officials had once hoped to have the large container scanner operational by the
end of 2010.

Previous statements from government
officials indicated that customs is “spot checking” about 5 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, customs officials said.

Etamic International Ltd is acting
as a consultant to the government during the design and implementation phase
and will remain here through the start of the scanner’s operations, according
to earlier bid records.

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

The government’s budget for the
current year – which will end on 30 June 
– planned on revenues of some $2.8 million being brought in over the
course of the year through the use of the x-ray 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, it unlikely that much revenue from the project will
be collected prior to the end of the 2010/11 fiscal year.