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SVG to beef up security

SVG to beef up security

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by Vanesta Murphy

With the level of violence in the world today, security is of great importance to governments, and we in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are not to be left out.

In a collaborative venture the Ministry of National Security, the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Organisation of American States’ (OAS) Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) are holding a workshop from July 24 to July 28 on aviation security.{{more}}

The workshop targeted management representatives of departments/agencies concerned with aviation security, and representatives of the National Aviation Security Committee. Participating agencies included: Department of Airports, The Police, Customs, Airline Operators, NEMO and other agencies with border security responsibilities.

Speaking on the opening day, National Security Adviser, Sir Vincent Beache said: “We live in a very peaceful country, and because we have a certain comfort level we tend not to take matters of security very seriously”. He stated that since 911 the landscape of worldwide security has changed and we have to change along with it. This is because though we may not have a direct link to terrorism, the terrorists may use us to get to someone else. They (terrorists) he said, “are not interested in whether innocent by-standers are hurt, as far as they are concerned, the end justifies the means”.

This is why money is being spent to increase security and implement international measures. According to Sir Vincent. “We may think that it is a hassle to be searched at the airport, but there is a system being used because there is no way to search everyone. Sir Vincent said that someone may seem innocent but that may not be the case: “Where security is concerned we cannot take chances, someone who looks like a priest may in effect be a devil”.

With upcoming events like the Cricket World Cup these measures need to be in place. Director of Maritime Administration Commander David Robin, who was appointed to deal with the aviation regulations, said that the measures were not only for these upcoming events, but this is the way we in St. Vincent want to go. As stated by Godfred Pompey, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security: “This is a move in the right direction”, for security is a major issue. “We can’t afford to be left behind in this day and age.”

Sir Vincent noted that though our five airports are still a boon to our country they are also increasingly important from a safety standard. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a contracting state with the International Civil Aviation Authority. And because of this there are certain measures that must be put in place and certain mechanisms that must adopted.

Sir Vincent said, “If you’re in the team, you have to play as part of the team, and we are in the team.”

There are some measures that are mandatory and some that are voluntary. One that is mandatory is a universal safety audit and that was done here in St. Vincent last month. Sir Vincent stated that there are a lot of deficiencies in St.Vincent and the Grenadines, little things that can be corrected. and according to Sir Vincent, some of these will take longer than others to be corrected, so a work plan has been set in place to determine when this will happen. This has to be ready by August 28 and will have to be presented to the TSA and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICACO).

Sir Vincent would also like to ask pilots not to take offense when asked to come through Customs, at the front of the airport like everyone else. This is because the regulations have to be implemented and there are areas in the airports that will be security restricted.

Each state in the ‘team’ has to ensure that I.D systems are established for persons and for vehicles. Sir Vincent said that “they are not doing this to be mischievous, but because they have to”. He said that more public information must be disseminated and urged for greater public compliance.

Tourism has taken over from agriculture as our main source of capital, and these security measures are central to our development, if we don’t have them our tourism will die. It only takes one incident to make the country look bad, and it would take years to get back to where we once were from a security standpoint.

Commander Robin thanked the media.

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