THISDAY REPORTER (18 July 2006 12:31) Dar es Salaam THE mobile X-ray scanning machine bought by Tiscan Limited for the inspection of containerized imports entering the country was overpriced by at least 2bn/-, experts say. Industry sources told THISDAY that the US $4.5 million (around 5.4bn/-) price tag quoted by Tiscan officials for the Smith Heimann 3.8 Mobile X-ray scanner was an inflated figure. Our investigations established that the exact model of X-ray scanner from Smith Heimann of Germany was currently quoted at a price of 2.15 million Euros (around 3.4bn/-). The sophisticated scanner is being used at the Dar es Salaam port, which handles 75 per cent of the countrys cargo. Tiscan Ltd, a Tanzanian company and wholly-owned subsidiary of the Swiss-headquartered Cotecna Inspection S.A., bought the X-ray scanner on loan from a German bank in 2004. Cotecna Inspection SA had carried out the immediate previous contract for pre-shipment inspection services to the Tanzania Revenue Authority that ended on December 31, 2003. From January 1, 2004, Tiscan began delivering destination inspection services for TRA, under a seven-year contract ? which means that the cost of the overpriced scanner will eventually be passed on to taxpayers through the TRA when the contract expires. According to the terms of the contract, TRA will entirely own the equipment and technology being currently used by Tiscan after seven years. A quotation sent to THISDAY from the manufacturers of the mobile X-ray scanner shows the current price is half what Tiscan officials claim to have paid for the equipment two years ago. This sum of money (2.15m euros) includes your ten per cent commission, a sales official from Heimann in Germany said in an emailed message. Tiscan Limited bought the X-ray scanner from Smith Heimann in France. The companys General Manager, Mr Verne Kulyk, told former President, Benjamin Mkapa, while visiting the port last year that the X-ray scanner was bought at a hefty US $4.5 million. Mr Mkapa then ordered that security around the scanner be boosted to guard against fraudulent importers and unscrupulous clearing and forwarding agents who protested against its arrival because it posed a blockade to tax evasion. Tiscan had borrowed some 3.25 million Euros from a German financial house to buy the mobile X-ray scanner in March 2004. The throughput capacity of the scanner is approximately 16 x 40 foot containers per hour. Earlier, the chairman of Tiscans Board of Directors, Mr David Mollel, defended the companys decision to take the bank loan and place the x-ray scanner as collateral even though the machinery would later be owned by TRA. What is strange about Tiscan taking a loan ? what about TBL which took a loan from IFC (International Finance Corporation), its simply a business, Mr Mollel said. The mobile machine has a life span of 25 years just like the X-rays used in hospitals. Other countries in which Tiscan operates scanning operations are Ghana, Togo, Senegal and the Dominican Republic.