LAHORE -  Pakistan Customs and PIA have no basic mechanism to check narcotics in aeroplanes, well placed sources in both the departments revealed.

After repeated incidents of narcotics in PIA planes in a few weeks, various departments claimed to have beefed up security within their jurisdictions. But a lot of basic work has yet to be done, said insiders of Customs and the national flag carrier.

When contacted, Additional Collector Customs Farrukh Sharif said, “We have no scanners in cargo areas to check the goods and we are trying to repair the already installed out-of-order scanners”.

He said that Customs Department is going to form ‘currency detection and rummaging unit’. We have forwarded proposals to FBR for the purchase of new scanners and sniffer dogs to check narcotics. On the other hand, it is the responsibility of the PIA security to seal all the meals trolleys before these are being loaded in the catering van. Proper seals records must be maintained for future references. It is also responsibility of PIA security to escort the catering vans all the way up to aircraft till it is loaded and aircraft doors are closed.

But, interestingly, there is no security personnel deputed at catering section of the Lahore airport to meet the requirements. The PIA management has passed clear instructions to the airline security department to strictly monitor the catering department and flight kitchens.

A catering worker, on condition of anonymity, said they themselves seal the trolleys and no security staff is there to perform his duty.

As per management instructions, all visitors will be closely monitored and they will not be allowed to enter the operational area.

The PIA security will ensure that all items/raw materials which come inside the flight kitchen for preparation of food must be screened and contents checked as per the list.

The PIA security will closely observe the preparation of food trolleys and will ensure that no contraband item is loaded in the catering trolleys. Catering vans will be sniffed and sealed before departing from flight kitchens. All catering vans will be equipped with CCTV cameras and no catering van at apron side will be left unattended. Entry and exit control in the flight kitchen will be strictly monitored. Security procedures at the cargo complexes will be properly strengthened and re enforced. All shipper representatives will be thoroughly searched before they enter the cargo facility.

After screening of cargo, it will be ensured by the PIA security that no unauthorised official goes near that screened consignment. Cargo will be escorted all the way up to the aircraft till it is loaded and aircraft doors are closed.

The PIA security will provide raised pedestal for the sniffing dogs so that they could easily sniff aircraft roofs.

The management had passed instructions to hire sniffer dogs from private companies, but so far nothing has been done in this regard. Shortfall of security manpower was advised to be completed through a private security company which excels in especially trained security personnel.  The spokesman for PIA, when contacted, said, “In the presence of ANF, the airline’s security does not matter”.