I’m guessing most people have something in their daily work life that can cause frustration and not there’s not always anything that can be done to solve this. In Australia you are likely to get told to ‘suck it up’ and therefore just get on with the task on hand....not easy in the world of international freight forwarding and trying getting through Australian Customs and Border Control.
The day can be going swimmingly well for our international freight forwarders with shipping containers arriving to the wharf on time as planned, the client is well aware of this and is looking forward to receiving their goods. They are already doing a mental high five to themselves that this file will be closed by the next day as the client will have had their goods delivered and unpacked...BUT then the words that come next strike disappointment into our international freight forwarders....’the container is on border hold’.
You can almost hear the dramatic music playing as the countdown from Customs informing the Freight Forwarder that the shipment is on border hold and waiting to be inspected by Australian Customs to the phone call to the client is made informing them of this. Questions posed such as “Why my container” “This has never happened before, it was fine last time” How long will this take?” are all certain to be asked.
Well why does this happen?
It’s all about keeping our country as safe as possible from danger and disease. Manifests are completed before the vessel arrives to its destinations; these are screened and assessed for risk. Customs randomly select containers in the system which is called the ICS (Integrated Cargo System). Selected cargo will go to the CEF (Container Examination Facility) - these have large x-ray machines and other built in technology to examine the shipment fully. Mainly these shipments are being checked for prohibited goods, illicit drugs, illegal firearms and other harmful goods. This process is usually completed in 24 hours but can take up to 72 hours.
I’ve always been intrigued by programs and articles about drug smuggling, what drives people to do it and how they do it...not sure why I’m so fascinated but it certainly got me questioning the importance of Border Hold. As frustrating for our International Freight Forwarders and our clients border hold is - it seems illicit drugs and prohibited goods can be hidden in all sorts of creative ways therefore it is a necessary checking system to stop the illegal drug trade from becoming an even bigger problem than it is already.
Chocolate bars, walnut shells, children’s toys, jewellery, surfboards, cars, souvenir jars and champagne bottles were some of the most creative ways I saw reported to have had drugs smuggled through and over borders. Well I’ll not be looking at Mr Potato Head the same way again – I’m thinking he could be renamed the new Pablo Escobar or Frank Lucas.