Due to a computer glitch, the inspection of containers entering the port of Rotterdam could be faltering. Various logistical companies have expressed concerns in the AD newspaper. Peter Verbaas from GroentenFruit Huis responds to reports, and points out the good performances of customs.
Due to problems with the digital declaration system, reports have to be submitted via e-mail. According to the AD, the companies would receive approval for entry of the containers within a short time - sometimes only a few minutes. A customs spokesperson confirms in the newspaper that there are some issues with the system, but emphasises that risk selections are still being applied.
Verbaas is surprised about the reports. “I do not quite understand what the background is of these reports. It seems as if lately a witch hunt is being conducted against customs, and I do not really understand why.” Verbaas is in close contact with customs. Although he had serious talks with customs about the regulations surrounding external scanning, he is not of the opinion that the service is making mistakes structurally. “I also hear the occasional complaint, but if you ask more questions, those turn out to be incidental. Customs has been under a magnifying glass lately, I think a mountain is being made out of a molehill.” Verbaas wonders which parties would benefit from putting customs in a poor light. “What if we had a parliamentary debate, during which it will be decided that all fresh produce import has to be scanned? It would have many consequences, and it would result in logistical delays.”
The port is also doing well regarding smuggling and narcotics. “Many narcotics are intercepted in Rotterdam. Is that because more drugs arrive here, or because customs is better, and the chance of arrest is higher in the port of Rotterdam?” Verbaas asks, before answering: “I think it is the latter option.”
The only solution to intercepting all contraband, is by inspecting every incoming container. A logistical challenge which is both barely realistic and unnecessary. “Customs works with risk profiles, which results in relatively many interceptions.” According to Verbaas, more understanding is necessary for customs, and the way in which they operate. Last year, a group of members of the GroentenFruit Huis got an inside view at the government service. A visit that resulted in a much better understanding of customs among the traders.
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