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KKIA awaiting better system
Published on: Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Malaysia Airports Sdn Bhd (MASB) says it has applied for an In-Line Baggage (ILB) screening system to be installed at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) to enhance security procedures involving checked-in luggage.

The ILB screening system is able to screen baggage of all sizes to detect any explosives and other threats after the baggage had been checked-in at the airline counters. Such facility is available at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and Penang International Airport.

"We have submitted the proposal to install the in-line baggage screening system to the top authority for consideration," said MASB Senior Airport Manager Sunif bin Naiman.

Pending the approval and installation, it is not leaving anything to chance with strict security procedures and measures taken to ensure scanned luggage do not carry prohibited items. He was commenting on a Daily Express report about possible security loopholes in its current security scanning system for checked-in luggage since travellers are able to retrieve their bags soon after they have been scanned and a sticker placed across it.

Concerned members of the public said it was possible for travellers to reopen the bags to place prohibited items after the scanning since the airline check-in counter is quite a distance away.

Besides, some are also known to wander about the airport after the scanning as their flight may still be hours away.

Sunif said, however, that rescanning luggage is mandatory for those who re-enter the check-in counter area with the earlier scanned luggage.

At Terminal One, glass walls or barricade glass are put up at the check-in counter area so that movement of the passengers can be thoroughly monitored.

"Scanners are placed at the main entrance of the check-in counter area which requires them to scan their luggage before going to the check-in counters.

"However, some leave the counter area with their scanned luggage to go for meals and wish to check-in later. When this happensÉthey have to undergo the same process by rescanning their luggage that had been screened and given security stickers.

"This has been a practice and security procedures set by the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) which is the regulatory body of airports," he said.

At Terminal Two, he said, railings are put up at the check-in counters and baggage scanning including rescanning procedures are also applied.

Denying there are security loopholes, Sunif said the security measures are also in line with security manuals at airports of Annex 17 under the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) of the United Nations under Chicago Convention 1944 where Malaysia is one of the signatories.

He said the security stickers are normally placed on zips of the luggage so that any tampering on the stickers could be known.

"Terminal One and Two are equipped with 209 and 34 closed circuit televisions (CCTVs), respectively, plus the airport auxiliary police personnel are placed at the entrance and exit at the check-in counters.

"The auxiliary police would monitor travellers inside the check-in area, especially those who leave the area with scanned luggage and will make sure the luggage is re-scanned when the same travellers re-enter the area.

"They would also approach any travellers found to re-open their scanned luggage and tamper with the security stickers and will insist the concerned travellers to rescan their luggage," he said.

As an additional measure, Sunif said airline staff at the counters, who are trained to detect tampered security stickers, have been asked to assist MASB by insisting that travellers rescan their luggage if the sticker has been tampered with or removed.

If the airline staff overlook tampered security stickers, the airline has supervisors who will check on the stickers and insist for the luggage to be rescanned.

Another layer of inspection is at the sorting area before the luggage are loading into the aircraft by the ground handlers as well as a task force that have been set up to ensure no security threats and to prevent any untoward incidents.

Furthermore, he revealed that the security system at the KKIA is audited by the Chief Government Security Officer under the Prime Minister's Department twice a year and airport security meeting held twice a year is attended by all airline security units with MASB to get feedback and further improve security procedures.

He said there is also a monthly enforcement meeting involving the auxiliary police, Police, Immigration, General Operation Force (GOF), and Special Branch police as travel control officers, among others, for the same purpose to enhance and better security measures.

As for the stickers, Sunif said the security stickers are not plain stickers as any tampering like peeling is easily spotted if the traveller or anyone tries to remove and reseal the sticker on the luggage zips.

"We even received complaints from travellers that our security stickers damaged their luggage zips and the stickers are an eyesore to their luggage when only half the stickers are removed. "The security stickers come in different colours like pink, green and yellow due to different shifts of the auxiliary police on duty at the scanner machines," he said.

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