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The South African Revenue Service (Sars) is in the final stage of unveiling the second customs cargo scanner in the country – this time at the Port of Cape Town. Whilst no definite date has been made available for the launch, it is expected to be operational no  later than end of March. The first scanner of this kind was installed at the Port of Durban last year and has proven extremely  successful, improving container turnaround times. It is part of Sars’ new risk management approach that will see the organisation introducing more nonintrusive inspection capabilities at its ports and border entry points. “The scanner that used to be in Durban is  currently being refurbished with the latest technology and will be installed at the Beitbridge border post to control the movement of  illicit cargo through this entry point into the country,” a Sars official said.

The scanner in Cape Town is set to achieve the same successes as Durban – and to ensure the installation and operational process is  smooth, customs officials from Durban will be deployed in Cape Town during the launch phase. “This will allow us to leverage the experience gained through that office and allow for a seamless uptake in Cape Town,” said the official.  With the new X-ray  scanners in place customs officials will have a far more targeted approach in the screening of containers, allowing for a more efficient process. “It is not just randomly stopping cargo like in the past,” said the official. “The concept is to move away from  hunches and randomly stopping containers to a system where intelligence-driven information is determining which containers must be scanned.” He said the high detection capability of the scanners purchased by Sars also allowed the organisation to get very clear pictures of what was in containers. “We can identify specifics. Instead of unpacking an entire container we can now zone in on the  exact thing in the container we want to inspect. It also eliminates the need for breaking seals on export containers.”

Thanks to the new scanners customs officials say they can eliminate almost 80% of physical checks. Mike Walwyn, chairman of the Cape Chamber’s Port Liaison Forum (PLF), welcomed the decision to install a scanner at the Port of Cape Town saying it would significantly increase operational efficiency.