Acquisition of X-ray machines for GenSan airport still pending

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/10 June) — The time-consuming manual security inspection at the city international airport here continues as the acquisition for the replacement x-ray machines for the airport’s damaged units has remained pending before the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) central office.

Dante Fernandez, administrative officer of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) here said the delay is due to the problems with the earlier bidding.

He said they received an advisory from the DOTC central office and the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) that another bidding process has been set for the new passenger and baggage screening equipment of the airport here.

“The previous bidding conducted by the DOTC central office was declared a failure due to some problems,” he said in an interview over TV Patrol Soccsksargen.

The DOTC opened the bidding in May last year for the “supply, installation, testing and commissioning” of passenger and baggage screening equipment for the city airport, OTS central office and 31 other airports in the country.

The agency said it is “further improving air travel safety and security by procuring a properly layered passenger, baggage and cargo screening system for various airports” in the country.

The approved budget for the acquisition of the new equipment, which comprises 401 units, is around P297 million.

For the city airport, which is classified by CAAP as an alternate international airport, the proposed equipment includes a unit of final security checkpoint x-ray, a walk through metal detector, two hand held metal detectors and a cargo security checkpoint x-ray.

Fernandez said the airport’s security personnel were forced to shift the inspection of passengers and baggage to manual mode after their x-ray machines broke down two months ago.

He said the manual inspection has been causing long queues at the airport’s entrance and delayed the airline check-in of some passengers.

The problem became more apparent when the Francisco Bangoy or Davao International Airport was shut down for two days last week due to a runway accident and forced airline companies to divert or re-route some of their flights to this city.

CAAP records showed that around 6,900 passengers and a total of 37 flights of Cebu Pacific and the Philippine Airlines to and from the Davao airport were diverted to the airport here last June 3 and 4.

The city airport serves six to eight regular daily flights to and from Manila, Cebu and Iloilo.

“We’ve been receiving a lot of complaints about this and seeing what has been happening, we also feel embarrassed by it. But we’re doing our best to remedy this situation the soonest possible time,” Fernandez said.

The official said that aside from the replacement of the airport’s damaged x-ray units, the OTS has been working on improving their overall security arrangements.

Last week, OTS Administrator Rolando Recomono personally visited the airport here to conduct an inspection and evaluation of the terminal building and other facilities. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)