The government is expecting a truck which comes with a computerised scanning system to help its fight against the importation of illicit drugs and weapons to the kingdom.
Two large computerised scanners are expected to be installed at the Fua’amotu International Airport to help custom staff detect hidden items.
This means the current surveillance facility at the airport has to be enlarged so the scanners could fit in, the Minister of Customs and Revenue, Hon. Mateni Tapueluelu told Kaniva News.
Hon. Tapueluelu said at present imported containers and cargoes were manually searched and assessed by Customs staff to see if there were anything unlawful being hidden.
The Safeway System X-ray Machine – X Ray Mobile Container Vehicle Scanning System cost more than TP$3 million and have been donated by the Chinese government.
The minister said he was in China early this year and he had visited and entered the truck.
The truck can move from place to place with operators working inside the vehicle on a computer system which can scan containers and items using a detector affixed to the truck.
The Minister said there was no perfect screening system, but when the container vehicle system arrived it would help the fight to reduce illicit items being smuggled to the country.
He said the truck was expected to arrive in Tonga some time during the new financial year which is from July 2018 to June 2019.
Hon. Tapueluelu said the government had allocated TP$6 million in its new budget to fight the importation of illicit drugs and weapon on Tongan borders.
Drugs and guns
The Minister said it was normal to expect that where there were illicit drugs there were weapons.
The minister said illicit drugs were the most challenging crime that pressured the government.
“To me, as Police minister, the first and foremost task at this stage is to make sure no Police or any law enforcement officers are involved in any form of drug dealings,” he said.
He said he wanted to have an independent body which could make sure illicit drugs and items being seized by Police were safely kept before they were destroyed.
“I believed the current system in which these confiscated items were kept is not safe,” he said.
He said he planned to submit a bill to Parliament to establish an independent body to supervise the confiscated drugs.
License expiry date extension
The Minister said the law stipulated that all gun licences expired in every February of each year.
This year he extended the expiry date by one month.
He said this was because some gun holders may have been unable to renew their licenses on time because of Cyclone Gita, which struck Tonga in February.
When asked about the increase in number of illegal weapons being seized by Police recently, which included shotguns and pistols, Hon. Tapueluelu said it was true pistols had been found in Tonga.
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