‘Two border services’ brought in operation
All Belarus’ checkpoints began the year with changes. Some more mechanisms working in normal mode appeared, aimed at accelerating and simplifying the movement between countries.
By Violetta Dralyuk
Belarus started the introduction of this concept three years ago. The basic essence of changes, against a background of growing automobile, passenger and commodity streams, was to make control procedures on checkpoints quicker, and to minimise the quantity of control services working on the borders. In other words, it is important to leave only the main, border and customs services, in control of all necessary operations. The concept has been realised stage by stage. Since the beginning of the year, for example, transport and sanitary-quarantine control is now under supervision of customs officers and border guards.
In order to see how this works in practice, I went to the Novaya Guta checkpoint at the Belarusian-Ukrainian border. Customs employees are at the transport control, where they had operated transport inspections till the New Year. They willingly told about working days using the new format.
“In transport control lorries pass checks of the necessary documents. When entering Belarus they also have weight control. Here, under this roof, do you see metal plates on the road? These are scales. The information on the cargo is read out by sensors... Actually, this is nothing new for the carriers. However, this direction is new for us,” he added.
Behind this seeming simplicity of transport control are about ten narrow functions: check of permissions, route sheets, insurance policies, registration of foreign carriers, weighing of transport for identification of load on axis, measurement of dimensions... Therefore, theory and practice of the new direction on customs had been mastered long before January 1st, 2014. The Head of the Kravtsovsky customs post, Mr. Grinko explained in details, “A lot of work was done. First of all, we centrally implemented the new software, which enables us to combine and optimise information streams. Our personnel also completed training courses. For example, each worker at Kravtsovsky customs post can be involved in the work on the area of transport control. Until January 15th, transport inspection was giving us round-the-clock advisory support.”
Sanitary services now also work as advisers at check points. Their mission of sanitary-quarantine control was also transferred to other service. Customs officers check documents on production according to specified sanitary-epidemiological requirements. While border guards carry out visual survey of people and ask them about their state of health. Henceforth they look at faces not only to verify a photo of the passport with reality, but also to consider signs of fever, temperature and other symptoms of illness. They are taught how to distinguish dangerous infectious diseases. From a distance I watch the work of border guards checking documents. The employee, besides other things, asks a Russian driver some questions: ‘How do you feel? Do you have any health issues?’
It is obvious that everything is all right with him. He smiles broadly, when he is allowed to continue his way. To date, they have never had any serious questions on health, but if they do appear, the border guards know how to act.
The principle of ‘two border services’ is clear. However there is a question who and how will benefit from these changes. Efficiency calculations already exist. Instead of the previous 40 minutes of control operations, cargo carriers will now have no more than 30 minutes for the same volume of procedures. As a whole, the duration of transport at customs control is reduced by 20-30 percent. Every driver who spends days at the wheel with every minute of inactivity costing both nerves and money, can now estimate these figures.
However, according to experts, these are not all the changes. The concept ‘two border services’ will acquire its final form by 2015. At this point it will be possible to fully evaluate its positive effect.