Richards Bay is South Africa’s top-scoring IMO security code port

Port security managers (from L-R): Dering Joyce (Port of Richards Bay), Nelson Masophi (Port Elizabeth), and Mdu Ndlovu (Port of Durban). Credit: SA Security Code Awards

Among South Africa’s eight commercial ports that were recognised for the International Maritime Organization (IMO) International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, the Port of Richards Bay has attained the highest score, with Port Elizabeth and the Port of Durban in second and third place, respectively. The achievement was acknowledged at the South African Department of Transport’s sixth annual Maritime Transport Security Indaba on 18 November.

The code outlines the responsibilities of the government, port authority, shipping companies, and seafarers, as well as the necessary preventative measures in the event of a security threat. It also requires the port authority to provide assurance that all the facilities are protected from any kind of threats from land and water.

Regular assessment and review is an integral part of developing, updating, and implementing the port security plan. All of South Africa’s ports underwent a vigorous audit process in the past year – the certification and audit is conducted every five years by the country’s Department of Transport. “Any port that doesn’t meet the stringent targets and strict regulations governed by the IMO would not be allowed to operate or to permit any international trade through their facilities,” said Ernest Sigasa, Transnet National Ports Authority’s executive manager for port security.

The port authority works closely with government agencies, shipping companies, terminal operators, seafarers, and the entire port community to ensure that its ports uphold the ISPS Code and protect the safety and security of all those who enter its ports. There are various programmes in place to entrench a safety and security culture, including ISO certification programmes, safety talks and symposiums, the Zero Harm initiative that aims to reduce disabling injuries in the ports, and general learning from incidents that might have occurred in the past.