The European Union (EU) has just put Bangladesh on the list of high-risk countries in terms of operating cargo services by air and sea to the EU countries. The Europeans take their security very seriously, and so should we. But the crux of the problem at the Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport remains the lack of proper bomb detection dogs and equipment before cargo is loaded on to planes. Although the ministry claims that it was not informed of the EU ban before it came, our cargo was facing a curb from three other countries already and we have had ample time to get our security in order.
More than a year has elapsed since the successive air cargo bans came from Australia, the U.K. and Germany, which happens to be our largest destinations for RMG. Our question to the civil aviation authorities therefore is, precisely why have they been dilly dallying with taking proper security measures? Did we think for a moment what this would do to the cost of doing business not just for the RMG sector, but also the perishable items that use airway routes to reach their products to overseas destinations?
Screening by a third country in case of flights bound for Europe is not only an added cost for businesses, but the delay may end up costing agro-exporters some of their merchandise. Regardless of what authorities now claim about taking measures since the first cargo ban, double checking will push up costs and more importantly, being flagged as an unsafe airport will do little to uplift Bangladesh's image internationally. We hope the matter is going to jolt authorities into action in acquiring necessary equipment and employ the security assets so that this sticky matter can be put behind us as soon as possible.