Scanner sees everything, as do customs officers

The Kozlovichi customs clearance point (part of Brest Customs Service) tackles up to 80 percent of the cargo transported between the Customs Union and the European Union. Accordingly, it recently launched a stationary inspection device to x-ray cargo. This allows vehicles to be processed quickly, without the need for individual close-hand inspection.

By Valentina Koverina

“Brest Customs Service has a two-sided task: to process cargo as quickly as possible; and to identify prohibited goods,” explains the head of Brest Customs Service, Leonid Dosov.

Russia and the EU are keen to see Belarusian customs form a reliable shield, protecting against smuggling across the EU and the Customs Union: across West and East. China has allocated around $4m of free assistance to install and service the first stationary scanning system for large-haul vehicles on the western border of the Customs Union (the first of its kind). The new device allows for more thorough inspection and can process up to 15 trucks hourly, working day and night.

“Previously, we had to unload a vehicle if we were in any doubt, calculating the cargo and comparing it against the documents submitted by a driver. This is no longer necessary, as operators can view high-quality x-ray pictures to decide whether additional inspection is needed. It takes us just 3-4 minutes to adopt a thoroughly thought-out decision,” notes Mr. Dosov.

During the scanning process, any ‘suspicious’ vehicles are sent to the x-ray box, where 6 megaelectronvolts scan the cargo; it’s even easier when the vehicle has steel sides (up to 30cm) rather than tarpaulin. Importantly, safety rules are adhered to, with crash gates and an infrared barrier. If anyone steps in, the x-rays automatically stop, so there’s no real cause for concern. Meanwhile, food, cosmetics and medicine’s quality are unaffected. He explains, “Our x-rays do not even influence electric appliances or transport vehicles.”

The device was trialled for several weeks, during which time customs officers detected illegal cargoes on their way to Russia: alcohol, food and flowers. “A similar device is to be installed on the railway, to scan cargo transported in containers,” Mr. Dosov tells us.

Instalment along the western border of the Customs Union is the next huge task being undertaken by Belarus’ State Customs Committee. A complex programme for the development of road checkpoints is running from 2011 to 2015, with much achieved last year alone. The State Customs Committee’s Press Service tells us that Domachevo checkpoint, built on the Polish border, is now operational. Peschatka checkpoint is still being built while Privalka (at the Belarusian-Lithuanian border) and Grigorovshchina (at the Belarusian-Latvian border) are being modernised, with similar plans for Verkhny Terebezhov (at the Belarusian-Ukrainian border) and Urbany (at the Belarusian-Latvian border).

The results are evident: after the Domachevo and Kozlovichi cargo terminals came into operation, processing capacity rose to 28,000 vehicles daily (against 24,000 in 2010). This enables Belarusian customs officers to work quickly and thoroughly, while reducing the time spent in queues.

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