The Customs and Excise Division, along with numerous businesses located between Long and Thames Streets, were left counting their losses late Monday after they were forced to close to for several hours due to a bomb scare.
An unknown individual called the Customs Department around 10 a.m. yesterday and reported that a bomb was in the building. All staff members within the building and those from other offices in close proximity were asked to evacuate while police and fire officers spent over two hours searching for any sign of explosives.
Austin Greenaway, deputy comptroller of Customs, said an agent within the department received the call and alerted everyone. He added that a police officer attached to Customs assisted with escorting staff members to an area adjacent to the ACT building on Market and Church Streets.
All entrances and exits to Long and Thames Streets were then cordoned off while the police conducted their investigation. This caused a major build-up of traffic in the city of St. John’s which was abuzz with activity. “The Comptroller, Raju Boddu, and I stayed back to ensure that all staff members were safely out of the building. We waited outside for a long while until the all-clear signal was given for us to reenter the building,” Greenaway said. The all-clear signal was given shortly after midday yesterday.
OBSERVER media arrived on the scene just in time to see staff members from the Labour and Immigration Department, customs officers, postal workers, store clerks and business owners returning to their places of work with a sign of relief on their faces.
The deputy comptroller said that the incident came at a time when there was a high volume of traffic at Customs and it will severely impact the department’s cash flow. He said that there has been an influx of people who are attempting to do last minute transactions to benefit from certain government incentives.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)
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