The reconceptualization of the port security in Nigeria has been triggered by the escalating terrorist activities, piracy, and smuggling in the West African nation. The security challenges faced by the Nigerian seaports has been a serious problem over the last decade. The lack of safety consciousness in the ports, as well as the threat of terrorism, has pervaded the ports in Nigeria. In a bid to meet the global best standards, the administration has shifted its focus towards the security risks at the ports with the consideration of the vital nature of the maritime sector to the Nigerian economy. This study, therefore, aims to analyze the security challenges faced, and the possible ways to combat them.
Challenges faced by the Nigerian ports
There has been a surge in the number of port-related crime over the last few years. Some of these crimes include, but not limited to:
Terrorism and Insurgency. The recent cases that were witnessed in the ports are clear indication that terrorist have found their way into the port. The seizure of containers with wide arrays of army issued clothing in Onne and Lagos ports and the case in the year 2010 at Apapa port where weaponry such as rocket launchers were intercepted is a clear indication of the security challenges faced at the ports. There are speculations that the weapons and uniforms seized were destined to the Boko Haram, an insurgent group that has terrorized the country.
Drug Shipping. Drug barons and syndicates are synonymous in using ports as the entry points to their drugs. They are organized crime gangs that exploit the vulnerabilities and manipulates the systems and checks that have been put in place denotes Gwandu (2007). Drug barons have exploited the laxity of security enforcement officers and use the ports as the entry points of the drugs into the country. They have succeeded by having some official at the ports under their payroll as well as the crewmembers of the ships they use to ferry their drugs in.
Cargo theft- Cargo owners often collude with officers or the employees in the ports to clear cargo containers through spurious means.
Smuggling and trafficking. Different types of cargo can be smuggled into the country through the ports.
Stowaways. As in many ports in the world, stowaways is a problem that continues to persist. In Nigeria, there are maritime companies such as Secure A Ship that have employed qualified trained officials who are equipped with stow check analyzers. The Stowaway analyzers are used in the detection of individuals who are in confined spaced.
Security measures taken by various ports
In order to provide safe ports, there is need to incorporate basic concepts, aspirations, maritime and port security measures in the day-to-day running of ports. Some of the security measures taken may include:
The need to ensure that there are no unauthorized personnel entering a port facility or boarding a ship when the ship is at sea or whether it is from the side of the ship.
The need to ensure that there are no unauthorized goods or weapons entering a port facility. Crewmembers and port security personnel should ensure that there is no hidden cargo that is hidden in either the cargo being loaded or being removed.
In the instance that a security incident has occurred, there is need to alert the appropriate security personnel or when suspect items are discovered.
Roles and responsibilities of port authority and port facility security
All major ports in the world including ports in Nigeria have some form of port authority. This is because there is need to have an authority that manages the ports. Some of the responsibilities of port authority include;
The generation of jobs and income for the port
Strengthening the security of the port
Enhancing the flow of commerce
Enhancing the aesthetic qualities of the port
The protection of the environmental qualities of the port.
The port facility security officer also has a number of roles and responsibilities that include
The undertaking of security inspections. The inspections should be done in regular basis to minimize lapses in security.
Propose various modifications of port security plans by taking various aspects of the ports and ships arriving
Report all the incidences of security that occur in the port whether in ships or to the ship masters.
Coordinate with the port authority and the shipboard personnel to carry out all the operations of the ship.
Enhance awareness and vigilance on the port and on the other security members under the port security officer.
The duties of both the port authority and port facility security officer keeps on changing either by increasing or decreasing. This depends on the number of ships served in the port or on the size of the port. It is imperative to comprehend that although the roles and responsibility change, the duties that they conduct however remain unchanged. Due to the increases in the number of piracy attacks in the coast of Nigeria, the need of maritime security has immensely increased.
Existing security measures in place in Nigerian Ports
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