Research on Port Security: Threats and Vulnerabilities
Ports comprise the essential intermodal networks in international transport and connectivity. The nodes are imperative in cargo, passenger, and freight networks from one country to another. A considerable portion of the global GDP is controlled and enhanced through the ports. These ports also play a significant role in defining the border control points of each country. Each country owns a portion of the ocean or sea area surrounding the harbor. Transport, trade, communication, and international relations are examples of everyday activities that depend on ports in one way or another. A port is a country’s access to the world, which can include either airports or seaports. This paper shall base its analysis and research entirely on docks, which can be either adjacent to a sea or an ocean.
This research paper focuses on defining the challenges of enhancing security at the port. Criminal activities and illegal trade continue to increase through the world amidst efforts to stop it. The main objective of the paper is to analyze the causes of insecurity in ports leading to these crimes. The document shall critically analyze the various threats and vulnerabilities experienced at the ports. In the methodology, the paper shall examine the security measures taken at different ports as a case study. The case study will cover one port in Europe and one in Africa. The paper shall also recommend potential measures of addressing the existent threats and vulnerabilities at the ports.
What are the causes of port security threats and vulnerabilities? What are the solutions to these criminal activities? Ports are critical facilities in the world. Port security, therefore, becomes an important subject in many national and international policy formulation meetings (Oden, 2018). Various security measures have been proposed and tested in efforts to reduce the threats and vulnerabilities affecting ports. Ports are essential in the efficient management of imports and exports entering a country. Ports also play a critical role in the infrastructure management of a country. Most railways and roads of developing countries are connected to seaports or airports. Port security is, therefore, important in controlling access to ports to protect a country from potential dangers and threats (Fransas et al., 2012). Port security, thus encompasses forensics and disaster response mechanisms during emergencies such as terrorist attacks or smuggling of goods.
Standard port-security infrastructures are needed to deal with the threats that may affect ports (BMT, 2015). Port infrastructures are essential for transport and control points for national borders. The mechanisms for port security are applied for airports, dry land ports as well as seaports. However, special consideration is given to seaports. Seaports allow a mix of people, goods, and freight, unlike specific airports. There is a mix of private and government commodities hence a possible channel for criminals to use in conducting illicit activities. Seaports of many countries are not advanced with people accessing the ports using boats and other traditional means hence impossible to sieve out criminals.
Ports are essential nodes of global trade networks between various countries. Ports are also used for security purposes such as training grounds for the Navy in preparation to attack criminals who are based in the sea (Carpenter, 2012). Ports are also essential tools in the shelter of maritime vessels from various countries across the world. Ports are used as recreational points in many countries where tourists come to enjoy sandy beaches and ocean currents. An excellent example of towns famous for their ports includes Barcelona and Madrid in Spain.
Ports are also crucial in defining the history of the world. They were used for trade activities and also exploration (BMT, 2015). These sea trade activities trace back applications to the 18th and 19th centuries before the colonial period. A good example is the Silk Road trade routes, which involved Asia and Europe. Ports also played a critical role in the famous slave trade between West Africa and North America, where Africans were captured as slaves and transported via the sea to work in the American fields for agriculture (Tmd Drive, 2012). Ports were also the access points used by Europeans in the takeover of America, Asia, and Africa during the colonization period. Ports were also adopted and used in a big way during the First and Second World Wars.
Countries are now developing comprehensive security measures to deal with common threats and challenges faced at the port. A policy security mechanism should allot ha port to integrate into the network of ports from other countries (Oden, 2018). The arrangement should not interfere with regular corporate, trade, transport, and freight activities conducted at the port. Technology is also playing a critical role in ensuring security at the ports ashore as well as extending far out into the sea. The scope of port security should be to prevent illegal activities that may cause threats and vulnerability to the safety of ordinary citizens (BMT, 2015). These activities also affect the economy in a significant way through the loss of revenue, property damage, and undue trade disruption. A suitable port-security mechanism should ensure the reasonable protection of a country’s citizens with the world in transport and trade interactions efficiently.
The security of ports and other sea access points has become the consideration of significant countries in the world. Ports play a critical function in a country’s affairs, and development hence should be handled with the utmost care (Fransas et al., 2012). The security of ports is of top importance not only for its position in the transport function of a country but also for control points for regional, national, and international border points. Top economies such as China, the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom have invested billions of dollars into security systems and other mechanisms. Port security has gained considerably in the modern days due to an increase in crimes. These crimes, such as terrorism, smuggling, and illegal trafficking, are slowly conducted through ports. Therefore, addressing port security will assist in dealing with these problems.
Many studies are addressing the issue of port security. Each literature defines various measures of addressing the threats and vulnerabilities of port security (Fransas et al., 2012). An action to address port security has the ability to alter the operations and activities conducted at the port significantly. For instance, the thorough scrutinization of ships and ferries arriving at the port can lead to a considerable increase in the time and cost of shipping cargo and people (Kopela, 2020). Port security is vital in describing and analyzing the different tradeoffs between commerce and security. The port security systems should accommodate collaboration between business people and the government.
Key Concepts and Definitions
Ports are unique entities having complicated and different infrastructures. Each country has ports designed diversely to suit the fundamental needs of the country. The diverse characteristics are meant to enable a port to satisfy the following essential functions (BMT, 2015). Firstly, the port is used to transport passengers and cargo from one place to another. The movement is facilitated using transport units across the sea to the land interface. Also, ports are used in the servicing of maritime vessels from local and foreign areas (Oden, 2018). The naval vessels provide unlimited refuge for the supplies coming as imports from international companies. Ports are the basis of sea transport from one place to another.
The intermodal functionality of a port usually determines the usual activities at the port. Servicing ports are ports that provide maintenance, repair, and servicing to water vessels used, such as ships, ferries, and boats(Oden, 2018). Servicing ports are characterized by mechanical and repair centers for the maritime vessels. Recreational ports are ports that provide recreational sites for tourists, such as sandy beaches, hotels, accommodation, and boat rides into the sea. Recreational ports comprise majorly of hotels, clubs, and other entertainment spots. Some ports are also used for transportation of goods and people across the country. Ports also comprise important border points for each country hence providing surveillance and required security. The particular functions of ports are defined by the activities of the host towns and local communities. The events can be publicly related, such as transport, sports, and leisure, as well as special activities such as property acquisition, imports, and exports for industrial purposes.
Port Safety and Security
Many people get confused between defining safety and security, with some arguing that safety and security mean the same thing. (Helmick, 2010). The meaning is close to each, even though their application is greatly varied depending on the context of use. Port safety is the state of being free from all forms of danger. The danger can be natural such as fires, floods, and storms or man-made encompassing accidental and intentional causes. Safety is affected by terrorism, crime, and other external causes making the citizens feel worried and fearful.
Port security, on the other hand, involves all activities meant to provide safety at the ports. Securities are activities and measures intended to overcome criminal threats such as terrorism, drug trafficking, and smuggling of goods (Helmick, 2010). Port security hence focuses on all the systems, actions, procedures, and strategies aimed at dealing with threats to safety at the ports. Security aims at getting rid of all factors that may compromise the safety of the people. Security is also focused on detecting the probability of threats and vulnerabilities to safety. Therefore, there should be profound surveillance and control measures aimed at surveying and focusing on crisis management and mitigation (Kopela, 2020). Lastly, port security also comprises all measures aimed at identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities.
Research Question and Objectives
The main objective of the paper is to determine the potential threats to port safety. The paper shall analyze at the causes of these insecurities with particular regard given to terrorism, drug trafficking, smuggling of goods, and human trafficking. The last objective of the research paper is to determine the measures that can be taken to reduce the prevalence of these crimes in ports. The paper seeks to analyze Port of Helsinki in Europe and Takoradi Port in Africa as a case study to explain the objectives. Finally, the paper shall recommend a few measures that can be taken to overcome the above-stated threats and vulnerabilities of port safety.
The main research question is what measures can be taken to reduce the threats and vulnerabilities to safety. The question seeks to identify and analyze the criteria used to develop effective security systems for ports. The question will analyze and identify the weaknesses and threats to security. In efforts to answer the research question, the following issues have been identified. What are the most prevalent security threats in ports currently? Are these security threats and vulnerabilities common across all ports in the world? How do these security incidents happen? What are the measures in place to reduce security threats and vulnerabilities? To answer these questions, the methods of data collection should be useful in capturing all the necessary information to build the research paper.
This section analyzes all the techniques and measures used in building the research question. These measures are meant to provide data and information that can be used to provide answers and solutions to the research question. The methodology describes all the research activities applied in building the thesis and research question of the study. The research paper shall also tend to link the objectives and research question of the paper. The section shall also tend to explain the study approaches taken while analyzing the research paper. The paper shall also explain the process research and data collection methods and various data analysis methods. The data collection methods shall involve primary and secondary methods depending on the objective being tested.
The research paper has applied a research study approach called the case study approach. The research strategy will ensure there are probable qualitative research activities aimed at understanding how people and groups to provide information necessary for the research. This method will also locate the theoretical actions required for understanding the concept of port security. The empirical data for this research paper was collected using primary and secondary sources while seeking to understand the prevalence of security threats in two ports, Port of Helsinki and Takoradi Port. The research paper also analyzes other research papers and studies done on port security in efforts to understand the concept of threats and vulnerabilities of port safety.
The research has applied a case study approach while trying to locate and identify the threats and vulnerabilities of port security. The paper also used a qualitative approach to developing the different risks and vulnerabilities of port security. A case study approach was taken to provide an insightful experience of the concept of port security. Ports are different from one country to another; hence each will have a collection of threats and vulnerabilities in the world. The case study approach will also provide an in-depth analysis of the phenomena and circumstances involving ports. The strategy will also analyze, describe, and determining the experiences of people, groups, companies, and countries. Questionnaires and observation are primary sources of data, while secondary sources of data include published research papers and summaries by other individuals, organizations, and countries.
Analysis and Findings
The questionnaires involve hardcopy and softcopy forms taken to passengers, and company officials engaged in cargo and freight. Interviews with these sets of people also provided relevant findings and results (Oden, 2018). Also, the questionnaires were taken to workers at the port include ferry and ship captain, port attendance, and government officials at the port. The main threats and vulnerabilities of port security were drug trafficking, terrorism, money laundering, and smuggling of goods. The results from the analysis also showed that port workers and government officials play a critical role in encouraging port insecurities (Martin, 2019). There are massive networks and gangs of cartels that are focused on ensuring that ports are insecure and unsafe for them to execute their selfish crimes. Most of these officials are powerful and wealthy, having secure connections and backing from foreign companies and people (Martin, 2019). The research also found out that the current systems of security are flawed by design hence unable to sieve out some of the criminals. The vulnerabilities and threats are active and prevalent in Takoradi port as compared to Port of Helsinki in Finland.
Takoradi port is located on the southern coast of Ghana, regarded as one of the top ports in Africa. The port, therefore, serves as a reflection of the situation and features of all ports in Africa (Gameli-Dzogbetsi, 2018). The port is also one of the oldest ports having thrived after the slave trade between West Africa and North America. After the United States gained independence, the port was transformed into a center for Trans-Saharan trade between the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa (Ezeoha et al., 2019). Human trafficking is a top threat at the port with kidnapped men taken as slaves while kidnapped women are considered as prostitutes and wives forcefully. The youth are also trafficked for cultism and inclusion into terrorist groups in the Middle East. Addressing human trafficking will, therefore, help deal with terrorism and the slave trade. There is also illegal smuggling of goods into Africa through the port (Gameli-Dzogbetsi, 2018). The smuggled goods can be gold, ornaments, drugs, weapons, or counterfeit cargo. The products are exported and imported to Africa through the port.
Unlike Takoradi Port, the Helsinki port is different from the Takoradi port. The same interview was conducted in Port of Helsinki to security personnel and passengers at the port (Chang & Thai, 2016). The port has strict security measures and is sensitive to information sharing; hence the data collected was not much. The little information provided indicated that the Port of Helsinki is also critical in the smuggling of drugs and illicit goods into Europe through Finland (Carpenter, 2012). A report by the Anti-Narcotic Security team of Finland portrays the port as a key drug trafficking route for drug cartels and drug traffickers in Europe. Fortunately, the security team is deploying espionage and undercover to locate the pathways and forces controlling the illegal, although progress is slow. Money laundering and smuggling of gold are also frequent at the port. However, the Government of Finland is partnering with other countries in the European Union in efforts to reduce these crimes (Kopela, 2020). One of the measures to deal with illegal trafficking is using smart ID cards and passwords for all cargo and freight entering or exiting the Helsinki waters. All visitors are required to provide their visas and passports at the port before making entry into the country.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Looking at the findings of the two ports, the strengths and successes of port security involve a collaboration of all the agencies and security teams (Martin, 2019). The governments of the two countries, Ghana and Finland, are investing millions of dollars annually to create systems and mechanisms to address the security issues at the ports. The security personnel and the Navy are also deploying surveillance and undercover personnel in efforts to unearth the patterns and paths followed by these criminals (Gameli-Dzogbetsi, 2018). Other countries that import and export their goods through the two ports are also providing a multi-agency support system to address the issues of crime and other threats of port security. There are also drill and exercise activities once every two weeks for a thorough check of all security systems to locate faults and loopholes used by criminals (Kopela, 2020). Any government officials and port attendants found collaborating with criminals will be presented in a court of law facing a jail term of more than ten years and massive fines.
In the future, it would be essential to locate the involvement of the local communities living around the port in the prevalence of these threats (Kopela, 2020). Some of the people residing in Helsinki city are traffickers and cartels disguised as a local community hence can conduct their activities undercover. The relationship between the local community and ports is an avenue for further research and studies, especially taking the Takoradi port as a case study (Chang & Thai, 2016). It is also essential to identify the role of the human factor in ensuring a productive implementation of port security measures. There is a need for further research in that specific area in efforts to reduce the vulnerability of innocent passengers and the business person’s cargo. Criminals may take advantage of their innocence in the execution of their criminal activities. For that, port security personnel should be on guard and the look for potential threats of port security.
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