Passengers arriving at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda can now be checked for drug smuggling, wildlife trafficking, terrorism and Customs violations hours before their arrival following the roll out of the Global Travel Assessment System (GTAS) by the Uganda Revenue Authority.
GTAS is a digital platform developed by the US Customs and Border Protection Unit to allow officials to scan airline passenger details and flag criminals.
The platform went live in Uganda this past week, and is interlinked with URA’s National Targeting Centre, a surveillance unit that monitors suspicious Customs transactions. In 2017, the World Customs Organisation chose Uganda for the GTAS pilot and partnered with URA.
“The flight passenger manifest will be available to us within 15 minutes after a plane has taken off on its way to Entebbe Airport. We shall be on the lookout for plane passengers who travel frequently, carry a lot of luggage and bear unclear business particulars. The law offers a duty free cargo allowance of $300 per passenger and any amount above that is taxable under Customs rules,” said Dicksons Kateshumbwa, URA’s Commissioner for Customs.
The URA is targeting illegal imports of smartphones, cosmetics, jewellery, high-end textiles and earphones, which are often concealed by passengers in suitcases and leather jackets.
Customs officials have previously recovered cosmetics potentially being smuggled valued for as much as $6,000 from a passenger.