As Guyana prepares for the renewal of several of its port security master plans overseas experts on Tuesday imparted vital knowledge on reducing threats at major marine points of entry and exit.
United States Coast Guard (USCG), Lieutenant Commander, Jonathan Mangum said many local port security master plans would expire this year. He said their renewal would require hard work by port security authorities here to renew and maintain those standards.
The seminar is being held at the Regency Suites, Hadfield Street under the theme “Capacity building through training “under the auspices of the USCG and Guyana’s Maritime Administration (MARAD). Two other seminars are to be held later this year.
Mangum pledged the US’ commitment to improving port security in Guyana where the USCG has been to on several occasions to carry out theoretical and practical drills to strengthen the discipline.
Director General of MARAD, Claudette Rogers said Guyana has since May of 2004 been implementing the ISPS recommendations.
Rogers said in July 2013, the USCG had visited Guyana to conduct an audit of the implementation of the code’s best practices. “MARAD is not compromised on standards” she added , as she implored the shipping association to uphold the highest practicable standards of port security locally.
Countries around the world are mandated to abide by the International Maritime Organisation’s International Ship and Port Security Code (ISPS) aimed at securing vessels and ports against terrorists in the wake of the September , 2011 attack by planes on the United States.
The local port security officials were urged to improve and maintain a robust maritime industry. Addressing seminar participants, Transport Minister Robeson Benn told the gathering of local port security operatives as well as public and private sector officials that efforts must be made to improve the capacity to tighten port security. Screening, having a knowledge-base of maritime vessels as well as maintaining a clean marine environment were among the “important issues which needs to be maintained”. According to Benn , it is vital for officials overlooking the security of the ports “to know what is on board, who is on board , what the manifest says” because they are critical in the everyday operations of the shipping industry. “We need to have a seriously improving, robust maritime industry”, Benn told the gathering. He noted that on occasions Guyanese have been placed in “unfortunate circumstances” while on ships overseas. He referred to the interception of a vessel on which a Guyanese was charged along with others for illegal possession of narcotics in Ghana last year.
He stressed the importance of MARAD being aware of all information so that assistance could be provided to Guyanese who held by law enforcement agencies in other countries. He added that on many occasions himself as well as Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolyan Rodrigues –Birkett are called upon by foreign entities to assist in giving the go-ahead for vessels originating or registered here, to be stopped and searched while overseas.
Benn also urged the participants at the seminar to utilise the knowledge gained from the three-day event in the years ahead.’