DURBAN - Security at the Durban Port will be tightened when a senior delegation of police officials visits the port. This came to light at a Durban Port Committee meeting held on Thursday, led by the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Thembani Thuthani, from the Transnet National Ports Authority, said they had seen a decrease in the number of stowaways at the port, but an increase in trespassers.

Thuthani said he wanted Durban to have a crime-free port. He said the police visit was because of the spate of crimes taking place at the OR Tambo International Airport.

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said he could not go into detail about the security upgrades, but said it was part of the revision of security strategies at all of the country’s ports of entry.

The revised strategies at OR Tambo were proving to be “effective”. OR Tambo has had to contend with “follow-home” crimes where travellers are stalked by criminals who later rob them of their belongings. There was also a cash heist at the airport earlier in the year.

Cameras

Transnet introduced a R843million port security system last year. The system has 2100 high-definition cameras across all Durban’s ports, an increase from 864 cameras, and a thermal imaging system. The security system’s control room went live last year.

It was also Transnet’s attempt to make it a smart port.

Michael Heads, managing director of P and I Associates, said the police were trying to meet the International Ship and Port Facility Security Standards (ISPS). Heads, whose firm helps companies with insurance claims, legal advice and stowaway services, said it was important this was done to avoid a port downgrade.

“If the port was downgraded, then it would be flagged as a risk,” he said.

The ISPS came after the September 11 attacks in the US. It came into effect in 2004 when there was a need to tighten security at ports around the world.

A challenge facing Durban ports, in particular, was that it had both recreational and commercial fishermen using it at the same time.

It was not only security issues that were discussed at Thursday's meeting.

Nitesh Kara, from Transnet, said 15.6 million tons harvested this year would be good for exports.

In June, statistics for the port showed Durban handled about 4.5 million tons of dry bulk goods including, among others, rice, cement and wheat.

At present, 216215 vehicles are handled at the ports.

Daily News