They didn’t even last five years. The “e-gates”, automatic passport control systems, will be replaced “by a more efficient system“Said the Belgian federal police on Friday in the newspapers of the Mediahuis group. These gantry cranes, used for less than five years, cost 2.4 million euros.
These new porticos, desired by the Minister of the Interior at the time Jan Jambon (N-VA), were to allow rapid recognition of the face in order to compare them to their passport. The stated objective is to help the police in their work. Problem, the devices were regularly defective. The facilities even broke down two days after their inauguration in 2015, in the presence of Minister Jan Jambon. The malfunctions have not stopped since.
“A waste of money”
Originally, these new systems were to be a time saver, making it possible to reduce the waiting time of passengers traveling outside the Shengen area to eight minutes. Except that in the event of a breakdown, the checks were then carried out manually causing queues of two hours, says RTL Belgium.
Intelligent gantries which would be a “wasting taxpayer money“, According to the police unions. The cost of the future system and its implementation are not yet known, however. The federal police would like it to be European so as to have a uniform security system common to Zaventem as in Charleroi or at the Brussels-Midi station.
It is not the first time that the investments of the Belgian authorities have been severely criticized. In 2016, the Belgian army had spent more than 30 million euros to modernize tanks dedicated to medical service, command and reconnaissance. Several anomalies were however noted subsequently. For example, the space in the passenger compartment had been reduced so much that, according to RTBF, only soldiers under 1.70 meters could steer the tanks comfortably.