Award of certificates to participants of Physical Security of Port Infrastructure training programme

An award of certificate ceremony was held, this afternoon, at the Custom House of the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA), in Mer Rouge, for those who participated in a one-week training programme on ‘Physical Security of Port Infrastructure’. The Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Mauritius and Seychelles, Mr Vincent Degert, the Director of Customs, Mr Vivekanand Ramburun, and other personalities were present at the ceremony.

The training, one of a series of onsite capacity building initiatives foreseen in the Port Security Project, was financed by the European Union (EU), coordinated by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and co-implemented by the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Participants from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Mauritius Ports Authority, the Mauritius Police Force and the MRA Customs, among others benefitted from this training.

In his address, Mr Degert highlighted that this training has been provided by the INTERPOL given the capacity constraints that stakeholders involved in Port Security face. It is meant to make concerned Officers more capable so that they perform better in their daily operations by using risk assessment as a factor to guide their investigations, he added.

The Port of Mauritius, the Ambassador pointed out, is not only a critical infrastructure for the country but also the lifeline of the island, given that it is the area that ensures trade openness and connectivity of the country with the rest of the world. Therefore, with the increase in maritime traffic, port premises need to be protected to avoid illegal trafficking of goods, stowaways, human trafficking and potential terrorists’ attacks, he stated.

Moreover, there is a need to be pragmatic by testing and implementing the port security measures from lessons learnt, namely the three recent Taiwanese fishing vessels that ran aground a few miles to the west of the Port, he added.

The Ambassador stressed the need to have the relevant port governance structure with the setting up of a multi-agency approach to respond to the port security challenges and to have clear coordination and information exchange between key stakeholders.

On this note, he reiterated the engagement of the EU to work with the Government under the Port Security Project for the setting up of a Port Control Unit in order to optimise actions and allow securing the port infrastructure and containers of maritime cargo in order to reduce their use in illicit activities. The provision of digital forensic devices, biometric collection equipment, other technical equipment for heightened data input, analysis and exchange by the EU as well as access to the INTERPOL I 24/7 secure communications network and associated databases were also highlighted.

For his part, Mr Ramburun recalled that this training programme fulfills the overall and specific objectives to enhance maritime security and safety as well as to improve the management of port security. He added that this project will also be beneficial to all the beneficiary countries of our maritime route including Angola, Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles and Tanzania.

Furthermore, the Director of Customs indicated that the EU has been a key partner in enhancing port security and capacity building of MRA Officers. The EU has funded several projects, namely, the acquisition of a mobile scan van in 2018 at the cost of Rs 7.5 million; the purchase of a scanner at the Mauritius Container Terminal Pedestrian exit in 2019 to the tune of Rs 2,6 million; and courses as regards narcotics investigation and big data analytics, among others.