Seychelles introduces fee to curb commercial cargo from entering through airport passenger arrivals area
The new measure will not affect normal passengers, entering Seychelles on holiday and business trips. (SCAA)
As of January 15 next year, passengers entering Seychelles with commercial cargo at the arrival terminal of the Seychelles International Airport will pay a fee of SCR500 ($37.5) per piece of luggage, said a top official on Thursday.
The principal secretary for Trade, Francis Lebon, told reporters that this measure is being taken to curb this practice and reduce congestion at the airport.
Lebon said that there are many business people coming to Seychelles with large quantities of cargo and instead of having to go through the proper cargo terminal, they are taking it through the arrival lounge instead.
"The passenger terminal is for passengers and it has all the equipment and staff meant to deal with passengers and their luggage, while the cargo terminal is used for commercial cargo," he explained Lebon.
He revealed that last year, about 5,248 pieces of commercial cargo went through the passenger terminal and this is very high.
"We need to understand that border control is a very important component when it comes to national security, and the situation at the airport currently, makes it very difficult for the customs officers to perform their risk assessments and profiling of individuals who enter the country with illegal or restricted item," added Lebon.
He explained that the SCR500 per piece of luggage, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on November 16, will not affect normal passengers, entering Seychelles on holiday and business trips.
It will not apply to luggage that goes directly through the cargo terminal.
The fee will only apply to commercial cargo entering the island nation at the airport's arrival terminal instead of the Air Seychelles cargo terminal.
The chief executive of the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA), Gary Albert, told reporters that people coming in with large quantities of commercial baggage, cause a lot of congestion within the arrival lounge.
This he said causes delays for travellers who have connecting flights and others have to wait sometimes over one hour, before their luggage can be inspected because the person ahead of them has so many bags to clear with customs.
"At the airport, we have several standards that we need to operate by, one of which is ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation), which asks that passengers exit the airport at an average of 45 minutes after the plane has landed," said Albert.
He added that with the, it sometimes that time takes up to two hours.
Albert said the highest number of luggage pieces recorded was 75 and that this cannot continue, which is why this measure was taken.
Paul Barrack, the commissioner of customs at the Seychelles Revenue Commission, said the situation has affected their work quite a bit.
"Our role is to protect our borders, especially where it concerns passengers entering the country and now we find ourselves dealing with commercial issues, which should instead be handled at the cargo terminal," said Barrack, who added that this also affects verification of luggage, as they have to find a place to keep all the luggage bags to verify, and they simply do not have the space to keep the bags.