A Port Security Access Card (PSAC) system donated by the United States on Firday is expected to significantly tighten up security at ports in Guyana.
The equipment was handed over at the US Embassy by Ambassador Perry Holloway to Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson and Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) Director, Claudette Rogers.
“This ID card programme will allow MARAD to have greater governmental oversight on who is allowed access to International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS) Code compliant facilities in Guyana,” Ambassador Holloway told the media.
Patterson explained that the equipment will produce identification cards for employees working at ports and also reduce the security checks for other stakeholders who visit frequently…MARAD will hold sensitization programmes with owners and operators before implementation.”
Ambassador Holloway added, “It was quite easy to get access to the port and now it’s going to be much more difficult and not only is it difficult but if there is need for an investigation or there are accusations, they are going to be able to go this electronic system and have a record of who was in the port at what part at what time. So this (equipment) basically gives you control of the port.”
The idea to implement the system, valued at US$8,000, stemmed from a visit by a MARAD team to the US Coast Guard base in Louisiana back in 2014. There the team benefitted from the United States (US) Transportation Workers Identification Card system (TWIC), and subsequently held discussions on how MARAD could implement a similar system in Guyana.
Guyana adopted the ISPS code in 2004 following the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks and has since made significant improvements in its overall port security performance score, increasing its compliance from 58 to 84 per cent in just one year. Ambassador Holloway recalled that since 2010 the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) has provided over $437M in funds for training and equipment in the Caribbean.