Inoperative Eds Machine: CAAB’s laxity cost exporters
The competition for export orders intensified amid the pandemic and the airport authorities are not making the exporters' lives any easier.
As is practice, goods sent by air through the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) must be passed through the Explosive Detective System (EDS).
But the two EDS, installed in 2017, at the HSIA are barely functioning for the past year or so thanks to the airport authorities' laxity in their maintenance.
At the same time, the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) has failed to make the other two EDS operational eight months after their installation.
As a result, the exporters are facing severe delays in making their shipments at a time when timely delivery is of the essence.
They are opting to pay either higher freight charges to the airliners to avoid facing cancellation and big discounts from their international buyers.
In absence of machines, the exporters have to depend on the dog squad for completing the mandatory scanning and certification.
The dog squad can only scan 110 tonnes of cargoes in a day whereas every day more than 1,200 tonnes of cargoes are coming to the HSIA for shipping.
If the two EDS scanning machines and the dog squad work normally, the exporters can ship about 800 tonnes of cargo through the HSIA in a day.
Recently, the number of exportable goods through the HSIA increased tremendously as the importers want quick delivery of goods to fill their empty shelves and for the unusual freight charges as a result of the global shortage of containers.
"There is a lot of backlog at the airport," said Faruque Hassan, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
In fact, none of the two EDS scanning machines was running for 10 or 12 days and only the dog squad was functional, Nurul Amin, director of the Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association, told The Daily Star.
However, one EDS scanning machine has started functioning since Monday, he said, adding that the CAAB has assured them that the other two machines would be running from today.
Contacted, CAAB Chairman M Mafidur Rahman acknowledged the delays.
The warranty period of the two EDSs, which cost Tk 17 crore each, expired last year, he said.
The machines were supplied by local business group Navana, which has no major knowledge on the maintenance of EDSs.
"This caused the delays. We had to bring in technical experts from Malaysia or India to fix problems with the EDS machines."
And flying in experts became tricky amid the travel ban for the global coronavirus pandemic.
It was also not possible to bring in spare parts from abroad to fix the EDS machine, Rahman added.