Buying $71m faulty scanners just because we got a loan?


By Rauf Klasra

ISLAMABAD: The government is all set to buy aulty Chinese scanners worth $71 million though a team carrying out performance assessment also expressed serious apprehensions about the equipment posing health risks to unsuspecting general public. The machines are being bought from China against a Chinese government loan to Pakistan.

The federal cabinet meeting today (Wednesday) is being asked to stamp its formal seal of approval for the signing of the multi-million dollar deal to purchase the equipment to detect weapons and explosives.

Under the agreement, it was agreed that Pakistan would buy the equipment only if the pilot project showed acceptable levels of performance. But, an official report sent to the Interior Ministry by a relevant agency had raised serious questions about the effectiveness of these scanners. However, the concerned authorities still decided to go ahead with the contract while completely ignoring the negative performance report card of the scanners.

An informed source told The News that a summary was being tabled in the cabinet on Tuesday by the Ministry of Economic Affairs Division to seek approval of the prime minister and his brigade of ministers for signing of inter-government framework agreement for concessional financing for procurement of non-intrusive vehicles X-ray inspection system.

This deal was originally agreed upon by President Asif Zardari during his visit to China on October 16, 2008. According to the official cabinet papers, it was agreed during the visit of President Zardari that China would provide a loan of half a billion rupees to Pakistan to buy the scanning equipment on emergency basis.

Earlier, the Interior Ministry was informed in an official report that the hi-tech scanners, imported for detecting explosive material to curb terrorism, had been rejected by different concerned departments, terming them as dangerous for health and useless for serving the intended purpose. It was pointed out that X-ray scanning system cannot function in rain and lightning, levelled and smooth surface for the movement of vehicle and scanner is required and the people using the X-ray scanners should remain at least 50 metres away from the machine.

“The system itself has no inbuilt integrated capacity and capability to identify the explosive and other such material on its own. Reliance is on human intelligence, personal skills, practical experience and intuition,” a report had said.

It was reported that intelligence and law enforcing organisations are among the agencies which have rejected the X-ray scanners, asking not to install them and the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) has asked the police authorities to adopt the required protective and pre-emptive measures before using them.

But, Interior Minister Rehman Malik had earlier claimed while talking to the media that the scanners, imported from China, were multi-purpose, as they had the capability of detecting explosive material as well as narcotics hidden in vehicles.

He had even denied any commission or kickback was involved in the deal. “I have warned the dealing agents from both sides – Pakistan and China – that severe action will be taken if any individual or company was found involved in such illegal activity,” he said. “The quality and type of scanners was finalised by a board of experts of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) while the deal and financial matters were settled by the Planning Division,” Malik added.

Meanwhile, the official report said the X-ray scanners had inadequacies. The report said: “The equipment can scan cargo or containers and only differentiate between declared and loaded goods. In case of any anomaly, the operator can only declare the suspected goods.”

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One Response to “Buying $71m faulty scanners just because we got a loan?”

  1. Tachoblog » Archives » Tachoblog Says Happy Birthday To The World’s Most Popular Van Says:

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