Govt Pledges to Improve Security at Main Ports

JAKARTA ~ The authorities have pledged to improve security at seven of the country’s major port terminals after the US Coast Guard issued a warning, officials said.

Transport Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said that the US Coast Guard had sent a letter warning that it had found seven terminals that did not fully comply with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.

“There are a few improvements to be made and we are working on this,” Ervan said on Wednesday. He did not elaborate on what needed to be done but said Indonesia had 90 days from the notification to fix the problems.

“If we do not comply, then goods and ships from these terminals would require tight escort when arriving there (the United States) and that would mean more costs,” Ervan said.

Inspections would also have to be more thorough in the US, he added.

The ministry’s director general for sea transportation, Harijogi, told the Detikcom online news service that the warning was received in a letter from the US Coast Guard on August 23.

He named only five of the terminals – one in Jakarta, one in Indonesia’s second city Surabaya, one in North Sumatra’s Medan and two in Central Java’s Semarang.

The code is a comprehensive set of measures to enhance the security of ships and port facilities and must be met by all signatories to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, including Indonesia.

“Hopefully this can be settled so it does not disturb our exports and imports,” Harijogi added.

Transport in the archipelago nation is currently under greater scrutiny after a series of plane, boat and train accidents blamed on lax safety standards or their weak enforcement.

The European Union has blacklisted all Indonesian air carriers from its air space following a failure by authorities here to give necessary safety assurances.

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