CUSTOMS clearance procedures have been fast-tracked for this year’s Formula One.
A team of nine Customs officers are manning an office at Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) ahead of the race to expedite the clearing and inspecting of incoming and outgoing cargo, according to Interior Ministry Customs Affairs president Shaikh Ahmed bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
It marks a change from previous years, when such procedures took place at Bahrain International Airport.
“This year we have done the clearing side of Customs procedures at BIC,” Shaikh Ahmed told the GDN.
“So we have the computers there and the systems up and running.
“Before it was only the inspection that took place at BIC and the clearance was done at the port of arrival, now both clearance and inspection takes place at BIC.
“The feedback that I received from Bahrain International Cargo Services was they are so happy that it’s all in one place.”
Shaikh Ahmed revealed Customs officers were supported by a towed X-ray machine at the circuit, although it is rarely used thanks to the “clarity of information” provided by F1 teams.
Upon arrival in Bahrain, cargo is being unloaded and taken directly to BIC, where Customs officers are waiting.
“We have a dedicated team at BIC that observes the equipment as it is opened,” said Shaikh Ahmed.
“They have a list and exact details, so (our) team is there as soon as the truck arrives and they will witness everything.
“In some cases we escort the trucks if it’s expensive, such as the ones that have the actual car. The other equipment is just sent.
“That’s how we expedite things, nothing waits at any of the ports and gets cleared and checked there, everything goes directly to BIC.”
The Customs officers are a special unit that handles all exhibitions and events in Bahrain throughout the year.
“This team works 24/7 and it continues working until the last item departs Bahrain,” added Shaikh Ahmed.
Around eight Boeing 747 cargo planes have arrived in Bahrain from Australia so far, carrying between them more than 670 tonnes of equipment, with more expected.
“Other shipments we have received include 64 shipments which came on commercial airlines that equates to more than 40 tonnes and via seaport close to 100 containers,” said Shaikh Ahmed.
Ninety containers (have arrived) so far and 10 are yet to arrive.
“Remember that we look after everything from teams, spare parts and cars – and then you have the catering, the merchandise behind the main grandstand and all the entertainment that comes in, whether by sea or air.
“Another aspect is visitors who come for the race.
“We have traffic from the causeway and the airport for the F1 and there are dedicated lanes for them on arrival.”
The 2018 Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix is taking place from April 6 to 8.