All of the country’s ports and ships must comply with an international safety code by June 1 or risk being shunned by other countries, Ministry of Public Works and Transport officials said Monday.
“If [terrorists] destroy the port, it will be the largest loss I could ever imagine because it will block all commercial activity and trade,” said Leng Thun Yuthea, director general of transport at the ministry.
After the terrorist attacks in the US in 2001, the US Customs Department urged nearly 170 ports around the world to take safeguards to prevent terrorism. The International Maritime Organization, a UN agency responsible for improving maritime safety, which Cambodia joined in 1961, is training government officials this week on how to implement the new International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.
The code states that shipping companies will be required to designate a security officer for each of its ships, which also must carry an International Ship Security Certificate.
Under the code, the government must conduct a risk analysis of its ports and draw up a security plan. A sub-decree specifying the increased security measures is expected to be issued soon.
“If Cambodia does not reach the requirements of the code, we will face a lot of problems,” Leng Thun Yuthea said. “If ships enter a port that does not have security plans, [the port] will face a serious investigation by the IMO.”
Ports and ships here do not use a computerized customs data system, but inspect containers using paperwork, a process that is inefficient and raises safety concerns, Leng Thun Yuthea said.
Lu Kim Chhun, director general of the Sihanoukville Port Authority, said a tall fence will be built around the port, 24-hour lighting installed, and more signs and security guards put in place.
“For us it is not difficult to provide security,” he said, “because we have experience through many decades of war.”