Archives For customs officers

New Zealand Customs Minister Nicky Wagner says the introduction of a new state of the art drug analyser will free up hundreds of hours a year for more enforcement work at the border.

The handheld device, a Thermo Scientific FirstDefender RM, shoots a laser beam into an unknown substance, accurately identifying it in a matter of seconds.  Customs purchased it with money recovered under the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery) Act.

“The device will drastically reduce the number of substances that have to be sent away for expensive testing, with savings expected to pay for it in less than six months.

“Its effectiveness will allow Customs officers to spend at least 520 more hours each year on frontline border work because they can make decisions quickly on what investigative action, if any, is required.

In addition to the drug analyser, Customs is building a laboratory in Auckland to test unidentified chemical samples.

“The enhanced capability will help to achieve outcomes sought in the government’s Methamphetamine Action Plan and allow Customs to identify an increasing number of new psychoactive substances stopped at the border,” Ms Wagner says.

More than 11,000 substances can be identified almost instantly by the FirstDefender analyser.  It can penetrate through certain types of packaging, so opening a packet or bottle may not be necessary, which also means a safer working environment for officers. Source: New Zealand Customs (contributed by Mogen Reddy)

SARS Customs Waterwing

SARS plans to operate jet skis (such as pictured above) along its vast river borders. [Picture – SARS]

Last week four Customs officers received their qualifications from the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) after having successfully completed their written and practical examinations. The officers who hail from the Northern Cape region will commence active patrol and enforcement operations along the northern border between South Africa and Namibia.

The SARS Water Wing skippers received their SAMSA category R certificates after completing a four-day training course at the Van Rhyn Dam in Benoni.

The officers will from next week begin patrolling the Orange River, the border between South Africa and Namibia, where there are suspected illegal trans-border transactions taking place, especially in abalone, diamonds, narcotics and rhino horn.

“These officials are now qualified skippers with category R licences which will enable them to patrol inland waters such as rivers, dams and harbours. The success of this pilot programme now enables us to actively assist in enforcing the Customs and Excise Act without being totally dependent on other departments,” said Hugo Taljaard, Senior Manager: Detector Dog Unit (Oversight).

He said that although the two jet skis will mostly be used in the Nakop area, they will also be utilised as far as Cape Town harbour in the small craft side of the harbour. There are plans to expand the unit. Customs’ first water wing boat is currently being constructed and more details about its deployment will be communicated in due course.  The jet skippers all agreed that it was quite exciting to be part of this pilot programme. “I never in my wildest dreams thought that one day I would be doing something like this,” remarked one candidate.  “Having jet skis will increase our visibility and this will serve as a deterrent to illegal trans-border traders,” added another.

Over the last 6 years SARS has steadily been increasing its visible policing and enforcement capability across the country’s vast land and sea borders. The hugely successful Detector Dog programme has attracted much national and regional attention. SARS also has plans to increase its existing non-intrusive inspection (NII) capability. Currently Durban, South Africa’s sole CSI port, is the only port with a dedicated X-ray scanning facility. Source: SARS Communications Division and self.

SAD story – Part 1

February 16, 2012 — 4 Comments

Die-hard SAD fan! (Tammy Joubert)We all suffer a little nostalgia at one or other point in our lives. Those die-hard legacy officials – the kind who have more than 20 years service – will most definitely have suffered, recoiled, and even repelled mass change which has occurred in the last 10-15 years in South Africa.  In the mid-2000’s the advent and replacement of the tried and tested DA500/600 series customs declaration forms by the Single Administrative Document – better known as the SAD – was unpopular to most customs officers although it was possibly welcomed by SACU cross-border traders.

A political coup had been won by some BLNS states compelling South Africa to harmonise its declaration requirements with those of fellow members, especially those operating ASYCUDA. At the time, SARS saw this compromise necessary to bring about alignment with Namibia and Botswana to facilitate the implementation of a new customs clearance dispensation for the Trans Kalahari Corridor (TKC).

The SAD is almost universally accepted by virtue of its design according to the UN Layout Key. However, why the fuss. A form is a form. Allied industry in RSA were used to the three decade old DA500/600 declaration forms which were designed infinitely better and more logical than the SAD.

None-the-less, South Africans are adaptable and accommodating to change. Following on from my recent post “SACU now a liability” it is now the SAD’s turn to stare death in the face. As it turns out, through wave upon wave of technological advances, we no longer need the SAD. At least in its paper form. In SARS case it no longer needs the SAD – period. A newer derivative (strangely not too dissimilar to the DA500/600) has now gained favour. It is known as the Customs Declaration 1 (Form CD1). However, unlike the DA and SAD forms, the CD1 will most likely never be required in printed format owing to SARS Customs preference for digitized information. Needless to say, if nothing else, the CD1 will provide a graphic representation of the EDI CUSDEC data for the customs officer. Next time, I’ll discuss the rationale behind ‘customs harmonisation’ and its non-dependency on document format. I feel for the die-hard SAD fan!