X-ray bus scanners help foil cigarette smuggling

ST VIDEO: CHARMAINE NG

Two weeks after security checks were beefed up for buses arriving at Tuas Checkpoint, officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) foiled an attempt to smuggle contraband cigarettes into Singapore.

Hidden inside the engine compartment of a Malaysia-registered bus were 1,155 cartons and 796 packets of contraband cigarettes, which were liable for $105,434 in duty and $7,727 in goods and services tax.

The 32-year-old Malaysian bus driver was arrested and later sentenced to 17 months' jail.

The discovery of the cigarettes on Aug 6 was aided by the installation of imaging scanners at Tuas Checkpoint, said Assistant Commissioner Colin Tan from the ICA yesterday.

Since the two X-ray bus scanners were installed on July 23, ICA officers have also found three passengers sleeping inside buses crossing the checkpoint.

All passengers need to alight from buses for immigration checks when entering Singapore.

Scanners found contraband cigarettes hidden inside the engine bay of a bus.
Scanners found contraband cigarettes hidden inside the engine bay of a bus. PHOTO: IMMIGRATION AND CHECKPOINTS AUTHORITY

AC Tan, commander of Tuas Command, said the bus scanners have enabled the ICA to conduct security checks more effectively and efficiently. "In the past, it would take at least four officers up to two hours to manually search a bus thoroughly - and this was done only for suspicious vehicles. Now, with the scanners, we are able to check every single bus that comes through the checkpoint in a matter of minutes," he said.

If the X-ray images show anomalies, officers will manually inspect the specific parts of the bus highlighted. The X-ray scan does not pose a health risk to the drivers, as their compartment is not scanned but manually inspected.

 

Forty officers have been trained to analyse the images from the bus scanners, said the ICA.

To further enhance security at Tuas Checkpoint, travellers are now required to go through security and Customs checks before immigration clearance. This also applies to those travelling by car at Woodlands Checkpoint.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2018, with the headline 'X-ray bus scanners help foil cigarette smuggling'. Print Edition | Subscribe