The new X-ray scanner has already been been built at Hamilton Docks but it remains dormant. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
The new X-ray scanner has already been been built at Hamilton Docks but it remains dormant. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

WEDNESDAY, JULY 13: A fully operational X-ray scanner at Hamilton Docks is still a long way off even though the machine has been in Bermuda for nearly a year.

Shipping sources told the Bermuda Sun there was still a “huge amount of work” to be done before the scanner would be up and running.

They said the structure that housed the machine had no power yet and we would “be lucky if the X-ray scanner was working by this time next year”.

In February 2010 the Bermuda Sun detailed how the multi-million dollar project to install the scanner as well as restructure the docks would get underway “within months”.

And a month later Finance Minister Paul Cox revealed that the Chinese company Nuctech had been chosen to supply and install the X-ray scanner.

At the time she said: “It is anticipated that the equipment will arrive in Bermuda in September 2010 and be fully operational by November 2010.

“The contracted cost of the specialized equipment is $2.6 million. The equipment and some related construction costs are being funded from the Confiscated Assets Fund.”

The X-ray scanner arrived in Bermuda in shipments between August and October on board the Oleander. And it remained in containers on the dockside for several months while construction work on the docks continued.

In March 2011 a row broke out between government and the Corporation of Hamilton about how the project would be funded.

But in the meantime Chinese contractors arrived in Bermuda to construct the scanner as well as the structure that houses it. Today the structure can be seen from the junction of Court Street and Front Street.

One shipping source said: “There is no chance it will be finished any time soon. There is a still a lot more work to be done. The next step is to build an operational control room and for that the dockside has to be reconfigured again.

“The refrigerated container units will have to be moved and that is all very time consuming. We’ll be lucky if the scanner is up and running by this time next year.”

Michael Dunkley, shadow minister for National Security, said: “We are disappointed that this worthy initiative has been so slow to be completed. This is unacceptable and it is appropriate that the public are made aware of the reasons why it appears this project has now ground to a halt. It is clear that the Government, with the support of the Opposition, thought this was an important project to get on line as soon as possible.

Development plan

“However one must always ensure that a suitable development plan be laid out and then once ready for use the scanning implemented in an efficient manner with little impact to the importer and local consumers.

“Clearly this had not taken place and now a necessary initiative wallows for what we assume are reasons that could have been avoided.”

Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton, told us: “This is a project that initially involved the Corporation working with Customs and the Minister of Finance, and therefore the Bermuda government.

“Unfortunately due to changes in the Municipalities Act we no longer had the revenue to be able to participate in this as fully as we wished.

“I have not been part of the meetings with Customs where the project has been discussed. I am sure there are a number of reasons as to why this project has been delayed.”

The Bermuda Sun repeatedly made efforts to contacts Customs and the National Security Minister, Wayne Perinchief, to find out the progress of the project. However by the time we went to press we had not received any response to our emails and phone calls.