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Costs shoot up for anti-terrorism security

By Graeme Kennedy

Friday 28th February 2003

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New Zealand ports are facing high costs to put major new international security standards in place by July next year, port companies' chief executives consultant Barrie Saunders warns.

The regulations ordered by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) were adopted as amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (Solas) under which 98% of the world's fleets operate.

They follow a US anti-terrorism requirement that ports supply information about containers and their contents before loading ­ a rule Mr Saunders said local ports were coping well with.

"But the IMO regulations go much further than that," he said. "Port companies will have to lift their security policies and procedures to ensure terrorists can't get access to containers or goods or damage ports and ships.

"It is an anti-terrorist initiative following September 11 and if we want to continue trading with western nations we have to comply ­ it's a big issue which will involve huge costs."

All ports have received a memorandum from Transport Ministry safety and environment manager Helen Hanify, who said the Solas amendments would tighten ship and port security to prevent shipping becoming a target for international terrorism.

Ms Hanify said the government was drafting a Maritime Security Bill for introduction by June and it would become law by the end of the year to give port companies time to implement the new security measures before the IMO's July 1, 2004, deadline.

She said the government would carry out risk assessments at all ports to identify those that would be required to have a port security plan and appoint a dedicated security officer.

The port facility security assessment was fundamentally a risk analysis to determine which ports were more susceptible or likely to be a target, she said.

Once a port was identified as potentially susceptible, its security officer would be responsible for writing a security plan, which would need government approval.

"Failure to adopt the IMO maritime security measures could seriously disadvantage New Zealand's trading and tourism interests and expose New Zealand ports to an increased risk of a terrorist incident as other ports around the world tightened their own security," Ms Hanify said.

Meanwhile, Mr Saunders said New Zealand ports had had a good year and economic growth of almost 4% had driven exports and imports with Asian trade particularly strong.

He said port companies were pleased the government had decided not to intervene and regulate port sector pricing following recommendations of the Charles River Associates report. The inquiry was commissioned by the trade and commerce ministries to look at competition and pricing issues and whether any anti-competitive behaviour required regulation.

"They looked at matters raised by the Captive Port Customers group but recommended no action be taken on the major issues," he said.

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