From June 14
ID card/passport needed to access shipping terminals By Johann Earle
Stabroek News
June 7, 2004

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From Monday, June 14, no one will be allowed onto shipping terminals unless they have an ID card or valid passport and can show documents relative to the business they are going to transact or a letter of authority if the person is acting as an agent.

The restriction outlined in ads in the weekend newspapers is part of the new International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code which is to be fully applied from July 1 and which forms part of a global response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the US.

Notwithstanding the presentation of the documents outlined above, the terminals reserve the right to deny entry at their discretion. Furthermore, persons carrying weapons (firearms, knives etc) will not be permitted to enter the premises even if the firearms are licenced.

The terminals that this new arrangement will apply to are Guyana National Shipping Corporation Limited, Guyana National Industrial Company Inc, John Fernandes Limited, Muneshwer's Limited, Demerara Shipping Company and Didco Trading Company Limited.

And with just weeks to go before the implementation of the new maritime measures aimed at combating terrorism, Guyana is nearing readiness in its compliance, according to Director-General of the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) Ivor English.

He told Stabroek News on Tuesday that Guyana is in the advanced stages of preparation and all the ports are working on their security plans. He said local ships are not included, since they do not interface with foreign ships or ports.

The new regulations, part of the ISPS Code, are to take effect from July 1, 2004. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the US Department of Homeland Security are the main agencies behind the new regulations.

Stabroek News understands that long before the events of 9/11, ships entering the US had to adhere to certain conditions, which meant they would have had to have special radar and navigation equipment on board. Most, if not all of the Guyanese-owned vessels, do not measure up to the communication, safety and environmental standards required for entry to the US, even before the new measures now being introduced. Smaller vessels usually ply the Caribbean waters only.

English said it was in the interest of the exporters to make sure that the ships on which they export items are compliant, or they risk their goods being barred entry to the US. If a ship has cargo from Guyana destined for the US, it could be barred from entering that country if it is not certified. Further, stringent wood-packaging measures also have to be adhered to, with the threat of the transfer of wood-borne pests.

He said training sessions are only being facilitated through MARAD, and they would be run by the Caribbean Regional Human Resource Development Programme for Economic Competitiveness (CPEC). Training will be held at the Ministry of Public Works and is aimed at vessel owners, charterers, terminal operators, seafarers and shipping agencies.

Seminars will be held from June 7-11, 14-18 and 21-25 and will be facilitated by representatives from the Caribbean Maritime Institute and the MARAD Director-General.

Meanwhile the Demerara Shipping Company on Wednesday submitted its ISPS security plan to MARAD and is said to be nearly complete with becoming compliant to the code.

Operations Manager of the company Tarachandra Kellewan said that the company has spent about US$250,000 to install the physical features of the ISPS requirements. The company is in the process of building its 10' high fence and is putting in lights and security cameras. He said too that he did not foresee the extent of changes that would have had to be made to become compliant. But he assured that by the first of next month, the company would be ready. He said that the company started implementing some of the measures since last year.

Kellewan said that the ships that call at his wharf will be fully compliant with the regulations and measures. He said that the company would be requesting a declaration of security from each ship that is about to call at that wharf, and in so doing, be assured that that ship is compliant. Speaking on the ever-present problem of river and high seas piracy, he expressed the hope that the army, Police, and the Coast Guard devise strategies to combat it. He is of the opinion that enough attention is not being paid to this issue, which could affect Guyana's security readiness. Many in the shipping fraternity feel that if the pirates continue to attack ships in Guyana's waters, the country could be penalised for having such breaches of security. He expressed gratitude to the City Engineer of the Mayor and City Council for their assistance in the plans for the parameter fence that the company is now erecting.

Marketing Manager of Demerara Shipping Limited Karen Lawrence said that the company has installed a total of 41 "high resolution" colour cameras and a sophisticated access control mechanism, which would see the use of proximity cards for persons entering the premises. She said too that if persons are given access to one part of the compound, he or she has to get special permission from management to access another part of the premises. She said that in like manner, the company's employees would be restricted access to areas other than where they work. Some of the senior staff will have dual access cards, she said.

Kellewan said that from July 1, the company will display a sign that reads: "All ports engaged in international commerce are now required to comply with the International Ship and Port Security Code (ISPS) effective July 1, 2004.

Demerara Shipping Company Limited is committed to ensuring the security of cargo, vessels (crew), employees, officials, patrons and visitors to this port.

Management request your cooperation and understanding of some of the measures that must be done as per the ISPS Code.

"(1) All persons desirous of entering these premises are required to present a form of identification such as National Identification Card or Valid Passport.

Not withstanding the presentation of such, management reserves the right to deny entry.

(2) No firearms, knives, incendiary devices or other weapons will be permitted on these premises."

A Reuters report on Friday said that a majority of Caribbean and Central American ports will fail to comply with the new standards by the deadline. The report did not identify the ports that would be unlikely to meet the July 1 date. The prognosis was based on a study done by Florida and Caribbean maritime and port officials.

The Reuters report said that non-compliance could mean costly delays and detours that could severely affect trade into Florida which is the largest trading partner of nearly every country in Central America and the Caribbean with the exception of Mexico.

Reuters said that the new security requirements include enhanced fencing, lighting, access controls, closed-circuit television, alarms and personnel training. Failure of ports, cruise lines and cargo companies to comply with the ISPS could result in the US Coast Guard denying ships entry and hefty fines.

The study done by Florida-based SeaSecure LLC said the reasons for the failure of the ports to meet requirements are a lack of communication between governments and ports, insufficient funds to pay for infrastructure improvements and a shortage of maritime security expertise.