With a representative currently in Côte d’Ivoire to analyse the airport security systems there manned by a private firm, government says it continues to undertake due diligence as it mulls the privatisation of the security at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Timehri.
“These are submissions (of Expressions of Interests) we would have received so we are looking at their operations at different” areas, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson told Stabroek News.
“We have from Canada and other different places so when the time comes we would have looked at the best and see which to choose or if to maintain our current operations”, he added.
As attempts to smuggle various illegal items and drugs out of the country have increased, coupled with rigid global security demands to tackle terrorism, there have been public calls for the revamping of security at CJIA.
Last year Patterson had announced that that government was accepting proposals for security contracts at the CJIA.
He had named a Canadian company that currently contracts and provides security at Israeli airports, as one firm that has gotten the attention of the ministry. And although he did not state the cost, he noted that the process would be tendered should it move ahead.
The Minister of Public Infrastructure had said too that security was being looked at from passengers to cargo and firms specialising in such systems would be considered. However, a proven track record would weigh heavily in favour of such firms on consideration of proposals.
Patterson pointed out that the exploration of adopting best practices in airport security would see the ministry visiting several countries to see first-hand how those systems work.
Among the benchmarks that are part of the consideration, is to assess whether those security entities are internationally approved by agencies such as the Transport and Safety Administration (TSA) of the United States of America. “We ensured that they are TSA and internationally approved so therefore, we will have a good company and system there. We are ensuring proper due diligence because there always should be due diligence,” he said.
“You just don’t take a company without due diligence or on its word that it was the best. You would be upset if I just took a coloured brochure and picked a company,” he added.
Back in November, 2015 Guyana and the US formally agreed to boost aviation security by providing training, management and specialised equipment. The TSA is the lead American agency through which the assistance would be provided.
And while he explained that a member from the CJIA Board was in the Ivory Coast to look at how a company operates that country’s airport security system, he stressed that it should not be taken to mean that that company has been chosen for Guyana.
“No decision is made. So we are sending people to see. If a company has an operation wherever, we will send somebody to go see and examine it, it’s due diligence on everybody…”, he posited.
“The local people would be doing the local stuff so you have to see it in operation. The boy can come back and say ‘Boss there is an issue with sovereignty or it aint looking good for Guyana ‘and we say ‘fair enough it won’t work for Guyana. Now company, thank you but it wouldn’t work for Guyana’. You have to first see it and then make a decision and that’s what we are working on. We are not giving up any sovereignty”, he added.
However, he informed, while not naming the company CJIA is currently reviewing, that it was one that was “very specialised”. He said that too that in addition to the Ivory Coast the company also operates several other airports but Guyana choose to visit the Côte d’Ivoire operations as that airport was one similar to this country’s.
Said Patterson, “The Company is not from Ivory Coast.
They have other airports they operate…We are looking at one similar to what we have here. Remember Guyana is Guyana.
We can look at Pearson Airport (Toronto) but there is no comparison with what happens there at Pearson Airport and Guyana. You look at similars you look at something at what you have and that gives you the best option.”
This company said they have a similar airport in the Ivory Coast where they would be doing the manning, scanning systems and so forth.
The United States-based New Age Security Solutions boasts that it provides airport security for Côte d’Ivoire and has a host of other clients such as the Puerto Rico Port Authority, Miami International Airport, Athens Airport, Heathrow Express and Schiphol Amsterdam Airport among others.
Patterson stressed that CJIA will choose a security system best suited for Guyana while at the same time ensuring value added is gotten.
“This here, we are doing is a cost benefit analysis as we would have received proposals from persons and disciplines so we want to see how does it work and we will make a decision” the minister said.