The National, Friday, May 20, 2011
By ELLEN TIAMU
THE first of two buildings to host container X-ray scanners in the country will be built in Lae, Morobe, with operations expected to start by February.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the five-storey building was held at the old airport in Lae on Wednesday.
This will mean the hordes of containers that come through Lae sea port every year and which are checked manually by customs officers will now be scanned within five minutes before leaving the building again.
Customs officers will then sift through the image for another 90 minutes to see exactly what the containers hold.
The K35 million facility is anticipated to be completed by the end of this year and operations should be in full swing by the start of next year.
The facility will be a replica of the one in Brisbane, Australia.
The Chinese-made X-ray scanning machines will cost K16 million.
Customs expects 200,000 containers to go through the scanners next year and bring in K100 million annually.
During the ceremony, Morobe Governor Luther Wenge protested that while Lae generated K900 million a year, “the province only receives a paltry K30 million as its budget”.
Morobe is expected to benefit greatly from the revenue that would be created from the 50-year lease of the land to the government.
Commissioner of Customs Gary Juffa said the facility would greatly reduce the cost of goods and “will protect the community against illegal and illicit products and goods”.
Morobe administrator Kemasang Tomala urged the business community, landowners and government to work together to make this an internationally competitive business.