Bangladesh forwarders are urging authorities to invest in high-tech equipment to boost both security and efficiency at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (DAC), while the new cargo terminal is being built.
The new cargo terminal is part of an estimated USD 1.76 billion development project to build a new passenger terminal – Terminal 3 – and along with a VIP complex and other related infrastructure, with completion scheduled for August 2022.
The new 41,200 sqm cargo facility will be state-of-the-art and will boost the airport’s cargo handling capability from 200,000 to 500,000 tonnes per annum.
But with cargo volumes rising by 15 per cent annually through the airport, the Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association (BAFFA) is urging authorities to tap the latest technology in order to boost not just security, but efficiency as well.
“Sophisticated technology and equipment should be adopted for reaping the immense potential while money is invested to ensure security,” says Muammar Ahmad, director finance of BAFFA.
Ahmad was addressing a press conference on the closing day of the Federation of Asia-Pacific AirCargo Associations (FAPAA) 46th Executive Council and Annual General Meeting in Dhaka recently.
He cited the example of Singapore’s Changi Airport, saying that authorities there are planning to invest nearly SGD 1.0 billion (USD 724,000) to install new cargo scanners. Bangladesh should follow suit and upgrade Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, he says.
Alec Koh of [email protected], says the Singapore government is emphasising security and technology adoption for fast movement of cargo and providing training to build up skilled manpower in the cargo sector.
Bangladesh has struggled with airport cargo security, having fallen afoul of a number of countries, including the UK and Australia, who banned direct imports from Bangladesh in 2016. The country is also the EU’s list of high risk countries, meaning all exports from the country must be screened by x-ray machines and explosive detection systems – either an explosive detection dog unit (EDD) or an explosive detection system (EDS).
The ban meant cargo had to be shipped through another country, recognised as having adequate security screening, which meant added shipping cost, hurting the country’s substantial garment trade.
The UK only lifted its ban in February 2018 after measures were undertaken to improve cargo screening at DAC, including explosive detection systems, liquid explosive detection systems, dual view x-ray scanning machines, and under-vehicle scanning machines.
Meanwhile, the government has, in June, given the green light for the acquisition of two more explosive detection systems to screen export cargo at DAC, with the equipment to be installed by June next year.
Meanwhile, FAPAA’s two day meeting, hosted by BAFFA, focused on key issues and challenges facing the 19-member associations from across the far-flung region.
Of particular relevance was what outgoing FAPAA chairman Niral Kadawatharatchie of the Sri Lanka Logistics & Freight Forwarders’ Association (SLFFA), described as “thorough discussions” on the imminent global introduction of the new IATA/FIATA Air Cargo Program (IFACP) and how it compared to the current IATA Cargo Agency Program (ICAP).
In particular, discussions centred around the progress of the IFACP Pilot Program in Canada which commenced in 2017, and how the global rollout would likely impact each of their national memberships.
The IATA-FIATA Air Cargo Program (IFACP) is the result of a joint review by the two organisations – the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations (FIATA) of the existing Cargo Agency Programme.
To meet the evolving needs of the air cargo industry and better reflect the change in relationships – where the vast majority of forwarders are no longer ‘selling-agents’ for and on behalf of airlines, but are ‘purchasing-customers’ of airlines – the new and modernised IFACP was agreed upon.
Among the other issues discussed, were: IATA’s Cargo Accounts Settlement System (CASS), air cargo security, as well as training and education.
Kadawatharatchie also highlighted that FAPAA would continue its dialogue with the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) on relevant issues affecting all parties within the sector.
FAPAA holds its ECM and AGM in different member associations’ countries across the Asia Pacific region each year, with the Federation of Malaysia Freight Forwarders (FMFF) set to host the 47th FAPAA Executive Council Meeting and AGM, in Kuala Lumpur, in 2020.
The Federation of Asia-Pacific AirCargo Associations (FAPAA) was formed in 1985 to enhance the growth and development of air cargo services within the Asia Pacific region. It now includes 19 countries and regions within the Asia Pacific, including: Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand.