South African ports declared ISPS compliant

Jun 30, 2004
Author: P&S


All seven South African ports – Richards Bay, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay, Cape Town and Saldanha Bay, were declared fully compliant with the new International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) code earlier today, ahead of the 1 July deadline by a mere 12 hours.

The ISPS code, one of the most stringent maritime laws ever to come into maritime law, becomes mandatory at midnight tonight at all ports as well as on each and every ship operating throughout the world. Any port or ship not complying faces the risk of being unable to trade internationally.

The code was introduced by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in the wake of New York 9/11 and accepts that shipping is now every bit as vulnerable to terrorism as is aviation.

“The code also marks the first time that the IMO has become involved in landside activities,” says Captain Sanjiv Tandon, Durban’s harbourmaster and the man responsible for steering the course of ISPS at South Africa’s seven ports.

The legal framework was provided in the recently promulgated Merchant Shipping: Maritime Security Regulation of 2004.

As a signatory to the IMO convention it becomes mandatory on all South African ports and ships. Responsibility for the commercial ports lies with the National Ports Authority, which budgeted R200 million towards the cost of implementing the code, while ship owners have to face audits certifying their ships also meet the requirements. In addition, port facility operators have responsibility for complying within the code for each area of interface with the port.

Many ports, and Durban in particular are notorious for their ease of access, and are noted for crime and stowaway problems. The new code gives port security officials much greater powers over entry although it remains reliant on other port facilities to provide adequate security at their terminals.

The anticipated restrictions of entry into the port and in particular an area like Maydon Wharf at Durban led to a number of affected people serving notice last week of legal action aimed at preventing a policy of closed gates. Among the group bringing the action are hawkers and traders selling meals and refreshments to workers in the area.

Others in the large casual labour pool, on which much of the harbour stevedoring activity depends, also face complications, as do those who traditionally ply their trade by night among seafarers far from the comforts of home.

In this liberal age, where the rights of everyone are rightly considered sacrosanct, they may well argue that their constitutional right to earn a living is now under threat.


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