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Security standards at Port Victoria to improve | 01 July 2019

Security standards at Port Victoria to improve

Participants in a souvenir photo with guests after they had received their certificate

“The government of Seychelles remains committed to securing our port and main gateway to the world,” Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Minister Didier Dogley has said.

He made the statement during a certificate presentation ceremony to a group of port and border control security personnel at the end of a four-day intensive training session on port security.

Thirty-eight security personnel from the Seychelles Ports Authority (SPA), Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG), Anti-Narcotics Bureau (ANB), Maritime and Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) and Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration (SMSA) had been following training related to anti-terrorism security at the port.

The aim of the training, conducted by security specialists from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) of the United States Navy, was to help raise Port Victoria’s security standards to international safety norms required by the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.

The training was materialised after the American Coast Guard had placed Port Victoria on an advisory list for being unsafe after it discovered a number of deficiencies in terms of anti-terrorism security.

As of April this year, conditions were set by the US Coast Guard on the entry of vessels arriving in US waters after having passed through the Seychelles port. The training was to help tighten up the loopholes in security at Port Victoria through conducting proper search of vehicles, cargo and personnel. The training forms part of a collaborative effort by the American and Seychelles governments to get Port Victoria to be struck off from the advisory list.

It was the American ambassador to Seychelles, David Reimer, who presented the delegates with their certificates in a small ceremony held last Friday at the SPA. This was in the presence of Minister Dogley, principal secretary for civil aviation, ports and marine Alan Renaud, SPA chief executive Ronny Brutus, NCIS representatives and other invitees.

In his address, Minister Dogley said that everybody who accesses the port area from now on will notice the additional security scrutiny which will be a normal occurrence as it is part of SPA’s adherence to the ISPS Code.

“The government of Seychelles remains committed to securing our port and main gateway to the world. Apart from improving the knowledge, skills and ability of our staff here at the port, we are also in the process of finalising the domestication of ISPS code,” Minister Dogley said, urging the security officers to look deeper into and beyond the ISPS Code and to be champions of securing our maritime borders.

Minister Dogley noted that furthermore, by October this year, over 70% of the clearance of goods will be shifted out of the port to the ex-coast guard site at Bois de Rose. He said this will greatly reduce the number of activities taking place within the port as a restricted zone.

Minister Dogley commended the engagement of the security officers and requested them to use the additional knowledge and skills acquired to maintain high security standards at all times with the aim of turning Port Victoria into one of the best and most secured ports in the region, if not in the world.

He thanked Ambassador Reimer and the US team for the excellent partnership, support and collaboration.

For his part, Ambassador Reimer congratulated the delegates for completing the training and noted that through their commitment to improving anti-terrorism measures at Port Victoria, this will directly contribute to global maritime security.

He said the United States sees Seychelles as a strong partner in maritime security which is among his country’s three priorities in the region, the two others being economic growth and shared values like democracy, human rights and rule of law.

“Our security cooperation directly advances our mutual economic interests. A perfect example is port security: a secure port means safer shipping and commerce,” Ambassador Reimer said.

Elaborating on America’s Indo-Pacific strategy, Ambassador Reimer noted that here in the vast Indian Ocean, geography itself puts regional security in front and at the centre and it is the reason why the United States has joined forces with Seychelles to secure peace and security in the region.

“Seychelles’ vast exclusive economic zone sits in the middle of one of the busiest maritime corridors on earth. That comes with challenges, as you who are on the frontlines of this battle. Drugs and weapon trafficking, piracy, illicit financial flows, illegal fishing and military challenges obviously shape how we approach the region. Challenges exist but we see opportunities too. We see a bright future for Seychelles and the whole Indo-Pacific,” Ambassador Reimer further said, noting that Seychelles plays a vital role in protecting the region’s peace and security on the western flank.

Ambassador Reimer highlighted Seychelles’ and the United States’ involvement in the Second Ministerial Conference on Maritime Security and the Contact Group on Piracy off the coast of Somalia, hosted last week in Mauritius in partnership with the Indian Ocean Commission and on the Cutlass Express as examples of joint working partnership.

He also commended Seychelles as a leader and strong partner in the blue economy.

“This is why we commend Seychelles’ leading efforts in the international fight against piracy. Your effort to bring pirates to justice has been the key to the reduction of piracy in the region.

While the US Coast Guard previously reported that the ports in Seychelles fell short of maintaining anti-terrorism measures, the country is now to domesticate the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code into law. It is very good that Seychelles is now considering legislation to enforce implementation of the code,” Ambassador Reimer said.

Meanwhile, PS Renaud said that changes will include drills, audit of the port’s facilitation plan and the introduction of a “declaration of security” to ensure readiness and rapid response to security threats.    

Security specialist, Commander Larron White from NCIS Security Training Assessment Assistance Team (STAAT) of the United States Navy, said the training went very well and with the delegates grasping everything right and this shows that they were doing the right thing all along apart from acquiring the additional tools.

SPA chief executive Ronny Brutus said that other programmes are on the way to get the port to meet the ISPS code which will hopefully see it being struck off the advisory list.

Most of the delegates who spoke to Seychelles NATION said the training was beneficial which will further help them achieve better results.

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