JIS News

Security measures that have been and are being put in place at the ports, would impact significantly on drug trafficking and the trade in illegal weapons, Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill said today (January 13).
He was speaking at a maritime security seminar hosted by the Shipping Association of Jamaica, in collaboration with the Port Authority of Jamaica and Security Administrators Limited, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.
Mr. Pickersgill said that in light of government’s commitment to safety, the Authority had established two major objectives in respect of security, which were to achieve certification at the ports; and to improve security at the ports, so as to increase their marketability.
In order to achieve these objectives, he said a number of specific targets had been set and hence the port security system had been designed to, prevent and detect trafficking in illegal drugs, contraband and illegal weapons and ammunition; detect nuclear biological chemical explosives; detect and prevent stowaways; ensure the security and safety of crew, passengers and vessels; achieve revenue enhancement/recovery and prevent trade fraud; and to enhance operational efficiency of the security systems and port operations.
The Minister said preparations were far advanced to comply with the International Maritime Organisation’s International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, which requires certification of all international ports based on audits within the framework of specified security standards.
Work had begun on components of the plan in respect of public ports, he added. This included the purchase of X-ray units for the inspection of containers and break bulk cargo; a system of closed circuit TV surveillance (CCTV); an electronic control access system; underwater surveillance cameras; X-ray units for hand luggage of cruise ship passengers; floating barriers in port basins; and seaside patrols by maritime police and the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard. A ground transport policy for cruise ship passengers was also being implemented, alongside major training and sensitization programmes for employees and interest groups.
The Minister disclosed that already, government had purchased 11 x-ray units, five of which were expected to arrive in the island on Friday, January 16. The remaining units are expected to begin arriving next month.
Twenty US Customs law enforcement officials who have been employed to operate the machines, have arrived in the island and are going through final preparations for the start of the programme. In addition, 14 specially selected local Customs Officers have begun training to work on machines along with these US personnel.
In respect of the CCTV security surveillance system, Mr. Pickersgill said a contract had been signed with a top local security company and work on the project had started. The CCTV system would enable round-the-clock surveillance of the ports and would cover access gates, container stations, the port basin, ships at port and perimeter areas around the ports. There would also be remote off-site monitoring, back-up monitoring sites, internet interface and complete and safe storage of all data recorded by all cameras.
Meanwhile, the electronic access control badging system would be linked to the police criminal records office for security clearances of all persons at the port, including truckers, terminal staff and customs officers. Underwater surveillance cameras would be strategically placed to inspect the hull of ships on arrival and before they leave port, he added.
Mr. Pickersgill informed that the JDF Coast Guard would also use boats to escort cruise ships in and out of the port, and while vessels were in port, the patrol boats would remain in the basin in order to patrol the waterside.
“This comprehensive programme of improvement which has been shepherded by the Authority speaks to the government’s determination to promote and protect the maritime sector and to reap the maximum benefit there from,” he stated. The Minister said these initiatives had complemented other areas of endeavour, such as the Maritime Administration, which had been guiding the implementation of important pieces of legislation, passage of which was required by the shipping industry, internationally.
He pointed out that in order to carry out its responsibilities effectively, the Authority had forged alliances with several international and bi-governmental programmes, such as the USA Port and Marine Security Act 2001; the Carrier and Super Carrier Initiatives; the Business Anti-smuggling Coalition Programme; Trade Facilitation/United States/Jamaica Government Maritime Transport Initiative; the US Customs Container Security Initiative (CIS); the US Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT); and the USA Counter-Smuggling Coalition.
The seminar was staged in response to new requirements in maritime security, and was held under the theme:’The Challenges of Compliance with New International Security Measures’, to update, inform and sensitize stakeholders about the implications of these impending international security requirements.
It featured presentations on developments and trends in drug trafficking, locally, regionally and internationally; a panel discussion on the international ship and port facility security (ISPS) code; the role of the contraband enforcement team; the Business Anti-Smuggling Coalition (BASC) in Jamaica; a video presentation on container x-ray machines; and coastal security in Jamaica.

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