JIS News

In response to the anticipated increase in activities at the island’s airports during the yuletide season, the Jamaica Customs Department is taking a number of steps to ensure that visitors and incoming cargo are processed speedily.
Speaking with JIS News, Director of Public Relations at the Department, Anneke Rousseau, said the passenger processing system had been modified and that cargo release procedures had been improved in an effort to meet the demands of the holidays.
She also noted that the Department would be mobilizing its human resources, to provide for the dispatch of administrative personnel to cargo and airport facilities, to assist in the processing of passengers and the release of cargoes.
In relation to processing passengers, Mrs. Rousseau told JIS News that the Department had recently reconfigured the custom hall and the governing procedures.
Explaining the changes, she pointed out that, “we would normally check persons in the green line where you have nothing to declare, what we are doing now is that we will not be checking anybody in that line. If we have to check you, we will send you to the red line which deals with persons who have goods to declare or persons whose luggage we think needs to be examined.”
“We are not sending you to the back of a queue, we send you to the red line and we process you as quickly as possible. So it is not like you join the green line and then have to go and rejoin the red line. We are not exposing people to that kind of thing. We are checking them as quickly as possible,” she reiterated.
Mrs. Rousseau explained that the idea was to not have a line at the green section but to have a ‘green channel’ where people pass through. However, there will still be the red line at the goods to declare section.
The changes, she noted, had resulted in persons being able to pass through the customs hall much quicker if they have nothing to declare.
Continuing, the Public Relations Director, informed that a structuring of the red line had been done in order to make the examination process as speedy as possible, whilst simultaneously ensuring that contrabands and smuggled goods did not pass through the island’s airports.
“Although we will be doing fewer inspection of luggages, our staff, particularly at the airports, have been trained to use different techniques in identifying persons who might be trying to smuggle contraband or who might have goods in their possession for resale,” she reported.
“Where as persons have a right to be believed, we also have a right to check that person if we think he or she might be in breach,” she said.
Commenting on the challenges faced by the department, Mrs. Rousseau said that the main concern was the fact that most persons waited until the last minute to ship barrels to their relatives in Jamaica.
She is therefore advising persons who have relatives and friends overseas who might be sending them packages to encourage these individuals to send the items early.
“This will allow them a greater chance of clearing it before the peak season as well as allow us to get them out of the wharves and not be caught up in the rush with the commercial importers,” she said.

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