BIA to equip with digital gates for the benefit of air passengers
Government is set to install digital gates at its main Banadaranaike International Airport (BIA) to automate immigration controls and enable travelers to board and disembark from flights faster, Minister of Civil Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva disclosed.
Ten e-gates will be installed at the Katunayake Airport at a cost of Rs. 260 million, the state information office said.
The move is to provide an alternative to the present manual controls by Immigration and Emigration Department which regulates the entry and exit of passengers in the island.
The minister has instructed officials to expedite the procurement process for establishing electronic gate facilities similar to other modern and developed airports at international destinations at the BIA.
At a special discussion with officials of the Airport and Aviation Sri Lanka Ltd., the Minister gave instructions to establish two such electronic gates at the Arrivals Terminal and two at the Departures Terminal under Phase I of the project.
“Although the project had been initiated in 2017 it had not been implemented due to various reasons.
Therefore he said that he is instructing officials to expedite obtaining required approvals according to relevant procurement processes and reinstate the project immediately, with less expenditure and in a more advantageous manner to the country.
It was also revealed at the discussions that the financial provisions for the project will be allocated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and that the process will take around one year.
The Minister emphasized for implementations through the financial aid from the IOM and until such time to establish as an urgent requirement utilizing funds from the Airport and Aviation (Sri Lanka) Ltd. according to accepted tender procedures.
He has sought the assistance of the IOM for modernization projects of the port sector as well as a joint committee to be appointed for this purpose.
Under that committee, priority should be extended to obtain the scan machine that should be available very soon at the Kankesanthurai (KKS) Port.
The technical assistance of the IOM should also be obtained for performing operations and other activities of the port with enhanced productivity,” the Minister emphasized.
He emphasized the requirement for two scan machines for security scanning of metal and other material for the passenger ferry service between KKS and India to be launched in the near future.
De Silva said digital immigration controls are possible since information on travelers is captured electronically when they enter or leave the country.
“Sixty-five percent of people from the airport are Sri Lankans – all their information is recorded.
“Foreigners coming in have to go through immigration but when going back can use digital gates and go through in a few seconds”, he added.
De Silva said he was prompted to go digital as immigration officers were not efficient or polite enough as in airports in other countries.
The authorities studied electronic immigration controls elsewhere like in Dubai,on how logistics professionals need to adapt to a digitally connected future,he said.