By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) Ramesh Ghir has disclosed that some 51.64 kilograms of cocaine were discovered at the facility during 2013 while another 14.86 Kilograms somehow made it through and was discovered at other ports of entry.
The CEO said these discoveries were made as a result of cooperation between CJIA and the joint law enforcement agencies, while at the same time registering his concern over the innovative ways of concealing the illegal substances for movement through the airport that drug traffickers have found.
Among those innovations were cocaine in boulanger, pepper, false bottom suitcases, ochros and macaroni boxes among others.
It must be noted however, that though these are the official figures released by the CJIA, the possibility exists of larger amounts of illicit drugs being transported through the airport that have gone unnoticed.
When asked about figures relating to the incidents where staff at the airport has been implicated in discoveries, as is believed to be the case, the Airport CEO could not readily provide the information.
Ghir boasted however of attempts in 2013 to improve security at the facility.
According to him, in January 2013, the Corporation was audited by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the United States. The team found that the security systems and regulations at the airport were in full compliance with ICAO Annex 17 and TSA Security Regulations
Additionally, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority conducted an audit inspection of CJIA facilities during the period 25th to 27th June 2013. This audit inspection is part of the annual re-certification process of CJIA’s Aerodrome Certification.
There was also mention of a new Non-Intrusive Body Scanner, a new security office and security hut costing a total of $3M, security awareness training, and increased staffing among other measures.
Decrease in flight, passenger movement recorded
Meanwhile, the CEO has also reported of a decrease of 12% in passenger arrivals for 2013. Immigration processed 235,967 passengers during 2013 when compared to 267,652 for the same period in 2012. Total passenger movement for 2013 amounted to 479,177 compared to 543,374 in 2012.
There was also an 18% decrease in international aircraft movement with 3,811 International Aircraft Movements being recorded as of December 2013 when compared to 4,640 for the same period in 2012.
On a separate note, imported cargo for the period under review amounted to 2,287 tons; this represents a 5% increase when compared to the previous year. Additionally exports amounted to 2,462 tons or a 36% increase from that of the corresponding period in 2012.