Thursday, March 02, 2006

Dubai Ports World - Security is a government issue

Dubai Ports World – A business perspective

I believe that Congress is significantly over reacting to the Dubai Ports World deal.

Security is the responsibility of various government organizations, most notably, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs. The deal was reviewed and signed off by several U.S. government departments including the Department of Homeland Security.

Port management, namely, movement of the cargo is the responsibility of the port management company and the company does not have authority to open the containers nor does the firm have knowledge of what is in the containers. That knowledge falls in the hands of U.S. Customs.

The problem with port security is the lack of government resources to thoroughly inspect every container. Keep in mind the throughput volume that occurs at ports. It can be upwards of a million containers a year in a single port. This volume prohibits inspectors from removing and examining the contents of every container. Therefore, other inspection techniques must be used including modern and highly effective uses of technology. Based on a recent television reports, U.S. port security does not possess sufficient technological and personnel resources to provide adequate security.

Port security is independent from the ownership of the firm responsible for the movement of the sealed cargo containers. Longshoremen are responsible for container movement. Longshoremen aid security by recognizing and reporting suspicious containers.

True port security begins with cargo inspection and container security at the point of origination. What real difference would it make if a WMD is released when the container is still on the docked ship versus in the container yard?

Congress is overreacting and has made this a politic issue that is damaging our relations with middle-eastern businesses.

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