Some ports could be found non-compliant with international security code

Guyana maritime officials are expecting that there will be a decline in the number of ports compliant with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code during the recertification process in July.

Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) Port Facility Security Officer, Wayne Hinds, told Stabroek News yesterday that of the 37 ports certified under the ISPS Code in 2004 some would most likely not be recertified due to an international traffic clause. Hinds could not estimate how many would not be recertified by the US Coast Guard which is the designated authority for enforcing the ISPS Code.

He said that there was some confusion in the 2004 certification process which allowed for some ports to be certified although they dealt with domestic traffic and not international as the requirements for each were different.

He said that during an audit of the port facilities in July of 2013, the United States Coast Guard did have a few reservations that Guyana needed to address before recertification could be possible. Hinds stated that in terms of meeting requirements the US Coast Guard found “some deficiencies” in the implementation of the Port Security Facility Plans (PSFP).

He said that ports across Guyana were being transitioned utilising the US supplied model and that Guyana had to work to customise the plans, ensuring that the ISPS Code and the PFSP were structured into the daily operations.

Certification of all local ports to the ISPS standard is seen as critical as the country could be blacklisted if this is not the case.

During the opening ceremony of a three-day training exercise between MARAD and the US Coast Guard held at the Regency Suites Hotel yesterday, Minister of Transport, Robeson Benn stated that training needed to focus on sustainability measures. He said that after the three-day training session the follow through work was of the utmost importance.  He highlighted Guyana’s heavy reliance on shipping and said it could not be placed in jeopardy.

Benn stated that the improvements outlined in the current ISPS Code focused on reinforcement and implementation of structures necessary for Guyana’s development utilising ports as a means of exporting goods.

International Port Security Liaison Officer, Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Mangun, highlighted that Guyana had a ways to go to ensure that MARAD and the ministry approved port facility safety plans prior to the July 2014 expiration.

In February 2013, local ports were under severe scrutiny by the US Court Guard. Following the 9/11 attacks on the US, the ISPS Code was required to be implemented across all private and public facilities. The US Coast Guard had expressed reservations that across the Caribbean and Latin America, PFSPs were seen as contingencies rather than a way of life.

Over 23 agencies,  public and private, were invited to the training session yesterday including; John Fernandes, GuyOil, GuySuCo, Guyana National Shipping Corporation, Bosai Mineral Group, National Milling Company, Oldendorff Carriers Guyana, Demerara Shipping Company, Rubis West Indies, Guyana National Industrial Company, GPL, Muneshwers, Moleson Creek Ferry Services, MARAD, CANU, Guyana Fire Services, the Civil Defence Commission, the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Defence Force as well the foreign affairs, home affairs and heath ministries.

In February, the Shipping Association of Guyana (SAG) said that some local ports were still to comply with the international security code and since all private and public facilities have to be compliant, Guyana could face blacklisting.

The SAG statement came following a seminar for port operators aimed at reinforcing the need for continued observance and correction of all port and wharf protection systems and procedures in keeping with the ISPS Code.

The meeting stemmed from the findings and recommendations made by the US Coast Guard during a 2013 visit to inspect the local facilities ahead of the issuance of the 2014-2019 Compliance Certificate. The team identified the absence of the “unrelenting” execution of Port Security requirements at some wharf facilities as a major shortcoming, the Shipping Association said in the statement.

Every public and privately held maritime facility must be compliant before Guyana could achieve certification. The Code requires, among other things that security personnel are always present, that fences and partitions are constructed to specific heights and that security cameras are always functional. The US team also found that while the Port Facility Security Plans at most local wharf facilities were in place, they were treated as contingencies rather than a way of life.

Since then, the release said that the Shipping Association had taken a proactive approach to sector sensitization and, in collaboration with MARAD hosted a seminar to bolster compliance with international port security.

From the commencement of the ISPS Code in 2004, the local shipping association has been working with the MARAD to ensure that local ports remain ISPS compliant, the release said.

Association Chairman Desmond Sears had said in the SAG statement that there is need for staff at all levels of wharf operations to ensure that everyone develops awareness of the Code and its requirements, bearing in mind the negative national economic consequences that could result from non-compliance.

He said that at those facilities where the “system of issuing daily reminders to Guards” was implemented, the supervisors found that it engendered serious enquiries and consequent discussions that led to visible improvements.

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