Namport strengthens compliance with international norms on port security

15 November 2021 | Infrastructure

The United Nations (UN) Namibia announced details of a high-level UN and European Union (EU) visit to the Port of Walvis Bay on Thursday (18 November 2021).

According to Toral Vadgama, UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme – Indian Ocean West Programme Coordinator, the visit comes at a critical time, particularly as the Covid-19 pandemic posed logistical and operational challenges to global counter-terrorism and crime responses while the Port Control Unit in Walvis Bay experienced its first operational weeks after its official launch in September.

UN Resident Coordinator Sen Pang and EU ambassador to Namibia Sinikka Antila, will attend the meeting and the graduation cohort of the latest UNODC training under the EU Programme on Port Security and Safety of Navigation. The official engagement also includes a courtesy visit to the recently inaugurated Port Control Unit.

Collaborating

The EU-funded Port Security and Safety of Navigation Programme for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean supports nine countries, including Namibia, in their goal to build capacity for maritime and port security, and strengthen law enforcement agencies. The four-year programme is coordinated by the Indian Ocean Commission and implemented in partnership with the International Maritime Organisation and INTERPOL. Namibia’s strategic location makes its economy highly dependent on the sea and its ports. In order to increase maritime trade and to bring about the benefits that come with lower transportation costs and make exports more competitive, it is vital that Namibia finds a way to strengthen compliance with international norms on port security and guarantee safe navigation.

Training

The Global Maritime Crime Program (GMCP) supports Namibia in enhancing its Maritime Law Enforcement (MLE) capacity through training and mentorship initiatives.
This includes regional self-sustaining Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) training and support for developing an advanced Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) capability to strengthen maritime situational awareness with the aim to counter illicit activity at sea. During the last year, the UNODC GMCP provided regular training for more than 70 Namibian representatives from Fisheries, Port Authority, Police, Revenue Agency, Navy, Special Forces and the Ministry of Transport and Works. The training covers both practical and theoretical material with a focus on interagency collaboration and incident management, which also includes a security assessment of the port itself. Most training focuses on the major port facility in Walvis Bay.
In October this year, the UNODC GMCP expanded training, undertaking its first capacity building activity at the port of Lüderitz. After this successful start in Lüderitz, UNODC GMCP relocated to Walvis Bay and trained representatives of relevant enforcement agencies in the form of a two-week Port Security training between 8 and 18 November.

Countering organised crime

The Container Control Programme (CCP) supports the Port of Walvis Bay in its efforts to counter organised crimes in maritime container trade. While most of the world’s raw materials today move through container trade, only 2% of containers worldwide are properly inspected. This leaves much room for the illegal movement of supplies and illicit goods - particularly the smuggling of wildlife, timber trafficking and counterfeit medicines and Covid-19 vaccines in the case of Namibia. Since the CCP’s implementation at Walvis Bay seaport in 2018, crucial improvements in law enforcement have been reached in partnership with the Namibian authorities through mentoring, webinars and training on risk management, cargo inspection, prevention of wildlife trafficking, and detecting counterfeit vaccines.

Port Control Unit operational

In September this year, another important milestone was reached through the official launch of the Port Control Unit (PCU) in Walvis Bay. On the occasion deputy minister of finance Maureen Hinda-Mbuende commented that the PCU will afford the country the opportunity to reform and secure not only its trading environment, but also the entire trade facilitation spectrum. She added that the early successes of the PCU are a clear demonstration that the role of law enforcement agencies in combating illicit trade across the globe has become an important phenomenon and cannot be overemphasized.

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