Walvis Bay — Namport wants the government to consider allocating a bigger budget to customs and excise so that the division can be better equipped in terms of immigration control and cargo handling.
Namport also wants the government to look into granting Namport's security officers peace officer status, so that they can act more swiftly against crime within the ports.
These were some of the recommendations made by the chief of security at Namport, retired commissioner Festus Shilongo, during a briefing with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Safety and Security, which is currently conducting regional visits to obtain views on challenges concerning immigration control and safety and security, at Namibia's ports and Walvis Bay Airport.
According to Shilongo, crime reported within the boundaries of Walvis Bay port is remarkably low because Namport stopped outsourcing the security affairs at the port and instead set up an own internal security division, as well as constructed a dedicated fully-fledged police station inside the port.
"Due to these intensified measures we have recorded relatively low crime inside the port. These are not more than five cases, which include theft during offloading of vessels, trespassing and fraud that we dealt with swiftly," he said.
He noted that container theft has also become something of the past at the port, but they still deal with issues such as forgery of documents and some clients not fully disclosing the contents of some containers as a way to avoid paying more charges.
Hence, he says, customs and excise needs more manpower as well as port security officers appointed as peace officers to deal more effectively with such issues.
"Since the port is open for business 24 hours a day, we need an increased presence by immigration officials after hours at port gates, as a measure to enhance security," he said.
Shilongo appealed to the committee for support so that the security officers can be given more powers, saying that they would only act within their jurisdiction, which is within Namport premises.
"We require your support in the appointment of port security officers as peace officers within the jurisdiction of the port as is the practice in ports all over the world. The Namport Act and its regulations are the main enabling legislation that empowers Namport to enforce port regulations.
"The Act however has various shortcomings that do not fully empower Namport's security personnel. A review of the Act and benchmarking with other port authorities is currently underway to address these shortcomings," Shilongo said.