A high-power British transport department team is set to review the enhanced security arrangements at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport this week in a view to resume direct cargo service between Dhaka and London, suspended in early March. One of the director generals of the UK department of transport and another of its official will evaluate the security steps the government had taken. The civil aviation and tourism ministry’s additional secretary Abul Hasnat Mohammad Ziaul Hoque told New Age that ‘the two-member British team will review the technical aspects of the security measures (of the airport).’ He said lifting of the ban is depending on the report to be prepared by this visiting delegation. Bangladesh employed a British private aviation security firm, deployed trained aviation security personnel and installed both light and heavy security equipment at the HSIA to intensify security measures. The civil aviation and tourism ministry secretary SM Ghulam Farooque is currently visiting UK. Civil aviation minister Rashed Khan Menon said the secretary is supposed to meet the UK’s transport department officials to discuss a quick resumption of the cargo flights. A senior official of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, which mainly handles cargos at the HSIA, said several teams recently visited Dhaka but none conveyed Bangladesh as to when the moratorium would go. He said the British authorities considered Dhaka airport as a risky destination despite the airport complied with RA3, a set of procedures maintained by a cargo-handling entity located in a third country that ensures security controls, including screening. The system is applied to all Europe-bound consignments. On March 10, the UK had banned air cargo directly flying from Dhaka to London, until further notice as the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport failed to meet some international security requirements. The British report had identified poor screening both of passengers and consignments, especially, lack of explosive tracking devices. The government engaged British security firm ‘Redline Assured Security’ to upgrade the security management and training of personnel at the airport at a cost of Tk 73.25 crore. The firm will continue their project until March 2018, officials said. The civil aviation minister claimed before the reporters on November 8 that the government had already fulfilled the necessary conditions for resuming Dhaka-London direct cargo flight, but ‘We are not sure why the ban is not being lifted.’ Menon on the same day held a meeting with British high commissioner in Bangladesh, Alison Blake. In the meeting at the secretariat, Menon again requested the British envoy to resume the cargo flight. ‘We employed the British firm complying with our prime minister’s advice as we had feared that suspension of cargo might affect the passenger flight, too. We made the deal in order to lift the ban but it was not lifted,’ a senior official who formulates aviation policies told New Age. The official, however, claimed that ‘the resumption of cargo flight not only depends on the security aspects; rather it is much more connected with bilateral relations.’ According to a press release, issued on November 8, Blake assured the Bangladesh government of withdrawing the ban. The government has stepped up security arrangements of a dozen domestic and international airports amid intermittent violent attacks (not at the airports) since September 2015. The last one– the first ever knife attack at the HSIA on November 6 that left one Ansar member, Shohag Ali, killed and five other security personnel injured– also raised alarm anew.
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Source: New Age