The beginning of 2021 will see the introduction of a new security system in the Port of Antwerp aimed at making it harder for drugs traffickers to pass undetected with their wares, the port authority said.
At present, a haulage company comes looking for its containers unloaded from ships, the driver has a unique pincode which allows the container to be delivered from the dockside where it waits.
However the pincode passes through several hands before reaching the driver, and each on of those links in the chain is a target for the drugs gangs, who are able to bribe the official to give up the pin code, when they can effectively hijack the container.
Under the new system, known as Certified Pick-up (CPu), there is no more handling of pin codes. The unique code to release the container will now only appear at the moment the driver comes to pick it up, and at that point the container will be registered to the person.
Not a problem for a legitimate haulage driver, but a big problem for a member of a drugs gang posing as a driver. When the genuine company comes to get its container and finds it missing, the port will know exactly who came to pick it up.
The new system is a contribution to security, but is clearly not foolproof.
“We are not going to stop smuggling with this system, but it will be made a lot more difficult,” said Annick De Ridder (N-VA), Antwerp’s city councillor with responsibility for the port.
“As a port, we are taking our social responsibility this way,” De Ridder said.
“With the digital code, we are making it much more difficult for the drugs mafia to gain access to containers at the terminals. I hope the new federal government, regardless of its political makeup, will be willing to invest more in the law and the police to better track down the drugs mafias who are abusing our port.”