ISLAMABAD: Police officials are beginning to doubt whether the much hyped Chinese security scanners, installed recently at two entry points of the capital, can actually serve the purpose they were bought for.
The two scanners, meant for detecting explosives, were installed at Golra and Rawat on April 14. They were removed the next day, stirring debate within the ranks of the government and police authorities about their efficacy. The security scanners are mobile, mounted on a Volvo truck, and can be moved from one place to another within 15 minutes.
Officials said the scanners will soon be installed again at the two entry points. “The first performance of the detectors raised more questions than it answered,” an official close to the development told The Express Tribune. “Most of us are now convinced that these scanners are not explosives detectors.
They are merely cargo scanners which can detect only a few types of explosives and those too if they are in large quantity,” a senior police official told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity. Each scanner, imported from China on a soft loan, cost the government of Pakistan around Rs 50 billion, according to the police official. He added that the cumbersome process of scanning a vehicle through the detector makes it impossible to scan all vehicles entering Islamabad.
“There are chances that a car bomb may sneak through,” a terrorism expert, Amir Rana, told The Express Tribune. However, Rana said these scanners do offer some degree of deterrence. The senior police official who spoke to The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity said that there are better explosives detectors available in the international market. “There are machines available that can detect explosives from a distance of 500 yards. I think such detectors suite us the best” he said.
The police officer further said that no police official was ready for training to operate these vehicles out of the fear of harmful radiations. However, Amir Rana said the government would have to enforce certain measures. “Our police department has incorrect fears about radiations.”
Published in the Express Tribune, May 09/05/2010