step up security
ASIA'S two busiest ports, Singapore and Hong Kong,
expect to meet a July 1 deadline to comply with a worldwide
anti-terror law despite a sluggish response from ship
owners and terminal operators.
Singapore lies across the Malacca Strait, one of the
busiest waterways in the world and where pirates frequently
harry ships. Officials have warned of the risk of militants
hijacking a vessel to use as a floating bomb to attack
"The global shipping industry is not only vast;
it is poorly regulated, frequently beyond the reach of
the law and often secretive in its operations," said
Michael Richardson of Singapore's Institute of Southeast
However, the authorities at Asia's two big shipping hubs
were confident their facilities and local ship owners
would meet the new requirements.
The tough new security measures adopted by the United
Nation require ships and terminal operators to be security-certified
by the UN's International Maritime Organisation (IMO)
or face the prospect of having cargoes turned away at
The Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore, the
world's largest transshipment port, said 71 port facilities
out of the 123 in the island state required to comply
with the security code have so far submitted plans.
The plans must comply with the UN measures adopted in
December 2002 after the September 11, 2001 attacks on
New York and Washington and only 52 have been approved
"We are confident that most of our members with
Singapore flagged ships and port facilities will be able
to meet the July 1 deadline," said Daniel tan, executive
director at the Singapore Shipping Association.
PSA Corp, which operates the main port in Singapore,
was the first port facility to meet the requirements of
IMO's security code.
About 63 per cent of Singapore-registered ships, or around
1,000 vessels, have either obtained their security-certificates
or have submitted plans for approval, the MPA said.
In Hong Kong, the world's busiest container port, just
over 40 per cent of shipping companies have submitted
security plans so far, leaving the majority with just
over three months to make the UN deadline.
"Of the 30 facilities in Hong Kong we have the plans
of 22 and aim to have those plans endorsed by the end
of March," said Roger Tupper, deputy director of
Hong Kong Marine Department.
"The outstanding eight plans, we understand, are
in the advanced stage, so we don't anticipate any significant
The IMO' s International Ship and Port Facility Security
Code (ISPS) requires training for on-board ship and company
security officers, emergency procedures to deal with terrorist
attacks, and a raft of other measures in ports and coastal
terminals to tighten security.
Concerns are growing that if countries fail to meet the
tough security requirements for ships and ports, major
disruptions to the seaborne trading system could result.
According to the UN, over 90 per cent of international
trade is carried by sea, including key raw materials such
as oil, iron ore, coal and grain.