The UNODC – WCO Global Container Control Programme expands to a new priority port in Uzbekistan

On 5 October, 2022 the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for Central Asia jointly with national counterparts from the National Information-Analytical Center on Drug Control under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan (NCDC) and the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan (SCC) conducted an opening ceremony of a new Port Control Unit (PCU) under the UNODC-WCO Global Container Control Programme (CCP) at "Ayritom" Customs post in Surkhandarya region, Uzbekistan. The CCP management from UNODC and WCO, as well as donor representatives from the U.S. Department of State International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Bureau (INL) participated at the opening ceremony via video conference. 

The “Ayritom” Сustoms post is a border crossing point between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, and serves trains, vehicles, as well as citizens at the same time. The dedicated Unit is established to conduct systematic profiling, selection, and inspection of high-risk consignments to prevent drug trafficking and other forms of black-market activity whilst facilitating the legitimate trade flow. 

Sardor Atashikov, UNODC Programme Officer, Container Control Programme (CCP), welcomed the participants at the event and thanked for their continued support of and dedication to the Programme. He highlighted that “Ayritom” PCU is located on a strategically important area, and therefore, the creation of the PCU was essential not only for Uzbekistan, but also for the entire Central Asian region in terms of preventing and combating drug trafficking and illegal movements of other commodities.

Mirzo Ulugbek Shamsiddinov, Head of the Department on Drug Control Coordination at NCDC emphasized that Uzbekistan has been participating at CCP since 2014. “During the last period of 2019-2021, 43 joint events were organized and conducted within the framework of CCP. This includes national and regional training courses, mentoring programs, exchange visits to other CCP member countries, where 531 officials from the SCC, NCDC, and other competent agencies of the Republic of Uzbekistan took part”, - he noted. “The drug smuggling problem requires an emphasis on countering drug trafficking. In this regard, the PCUs established in Uzbekistan, besides customs and border control function, are also aimed to strengthen cooperation with other countries, and therefore it is imperative to continue their work”.


Kakhramon Umarov, Head of Customs Department for Surkhandarya Region expressed his appreciation of the current level of cooperation between SCC and UNODC within the framework of CCP and expressed gratitude for the assistance provided in the implementation of the tasks assigned to it by the Committee on the effective organization of customs control and expressed confidence in the further progressive development of practical cooperation.

The new PCU, composed of five trained Customs officers, and additional two officers from “Termez River Port” and two from “Termez Cargo Center” Customs posts is equipped with IT equipment and basic detection tools and is connected to WCO ContainerComm secure communication platform. PCU members have received training and are ready to undertake the systematic profiling and inspection of high-risk consignments with minimum disruption to legitimate trade.

In his welcoming remarks, Ketil Ottersen, Head of Container Control Programme, Border Management Branch at UNODC Headquarters congratulated the Government of Uzbekistan and noted the fact that “Ayritom” PCU coverage would go beyond “Ayritom” Customs post itself thanks to inclusion of four Customs officers from adjacent Customs posts “Termez River Port” and “Termez Cargo Center”, serving the goods arriving from or departing to neighboring Afghanistan. “This will allow a maximum possible coverage of all the cross-border trade between the two countries, especially during this challenging period of the history’s development. You will be the fifth PCU in the country, with “Chukursay”, “Alat”, “Yallama” PCUs, and “Aviayuklar” ACCU, successfully established and made operational through a CCP Programme”, - he highlighted. 

Welcoming the participants, Gilles Thomas, the CCP Senior Programme Coordinator from WCO, and Jack Anderson, INL Director at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent have commended the ongoing efforts of Uzbekistan in sustaining and advancing the Customs control measures, including in the context of CCP agenda and have reiterated their commitments towards further dedication and support to the Programme implementation in the country.

The opening and welcoming remarks were followed by the ceremony of handing over of the additional equipment by UNODC for the PCU members deployed at Customs posts “Termez River Port” and “Termez Cargo Center” and to CCP national focal points from SCC, then continued with ribbon-cutting ceremony of the PCU room.

The CCP Regional Segment for Central Asia is funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), and the Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) Programme. 

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