Mumbai technology slows cargo

MUMBAI airport is rapidly deploying new technologies such as a new electronic system to clear international cargo and CCTV, but initial teething problems have meant delays in the handling of goods.

During the week of 27 December the new customs department system incurred a backlog of around 1,000 tonnes. The backlog of un-cleared imported goods at the air cargo complex amounted to 3,500 tonnes against 2,500 tonnes that the complex handles on a normal day.

For traders the delivery of imported goods could take up to two weeks longer to arrive. On 4 January the air cargo complex was down to clearing only 52 per cent of its import capacity and around 60 per cent of its total export capacity.

The new system is the Indian customs EDI 1.5 version, which is an upgraded computerised version of its electronic data system to clear export and import of goods.

This system was introduced in Mumbai on 24 December. It has also been introduced in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Delhi.

Cargo agents saw some relief as Mumbai airport agreed to waive off detention charges, which are applied when the imported goods are not cleared off from the air cargo complex within 72 hours.

Recent terrorist threats have encouraged the airport operator to install a large number of high-resolution CCTV cameras covering the airport from all angles. The move comes after a September 2010 report that found no CCTV cameras were in operation around a three-mile perimeter of the airport. A total of 34 cameras have been installed so far with the remaining 36 units to be installed by March this year.

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