Maputo — Mozambique has become the first Southern African Development Community (SADC) country to set up a Special Unit for Airport Cargo Control, intended to strengthen the capacity to spot and seize drugs and other illicit products that may be transported through these entry posts.
The unit, virtually commissioned on Wednesday in Maputo International Airport, consists of the Mozambique Tax Authority (AT), the National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) and the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC) who will share the same office to ensure strict control of cargo at the country’s main airport terminals.
With the unit performing its duties, Mozambique expects to make national borders safer and less used for illicit trafficking of products such as drugs, firearms, body parts, minerals and wildlife products such as ivory and rhino horns..
The initiative, which comes under efforts to combat cross-border illicit activities, binds together the Mozambican government, represented by the Tax Authority, and the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNDOC).
At the ceremony, the Director of the AT Office for Planning, Studies and International Cooperation, Augusto Tacarindua, thanked the partners for their technical and logistical support and entreated them for further assistance and training for members of the team.
He said it is part of AT strategy to boost the fight against smuggling and improve staff capacities so that import and export procedures can be carried out safely, thus ensuring revenue for the Mozambican state.
The United States Ambassador, Dennis Hearne, also present at the ceremony, said the Special Unit for Airport Cargo Control is a victory against the trafficking of illicit products.
Hearne pointed out that the US Government with other partners has been assisting Mozambique in capacity building to enforce the law, and to nurture peace and stability.
“The US Government supports efforts for border security in Mozambique, though regular training especially airport security. The new unit stresses our commitment to a trustworthy partner and for all those who want a prosperous and peaceful country,” he said.
Cesar Guedes, the UNDOC country representative, said cooperation with Mozambique is part of the UN Agency’s global project, named Containers Control Project, which has existed for over 20 years in the ports and airports of 55 countries.
At the launch, the AT and UNDOC signed a Memorandum of Understanding that establishes a cooperation framework for the implementation of the project, according to a press release issued by the AT.