The Maritime Administration (MARAD) on Friday received from the United States Government computerised Identification Card reader equipment that would be used to enhanced local port security.The Transportation Workers Identification Card system (TWIC), which is valued at just under US$8000, was handed over to Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson at the MARAD Head Office in Kingston.In brief remarks, Minister Patterson explained how the equipment would help enhance port security.“The card which will be used by the port facilities in Guyana will be known as PSAC (Port Security Access Card)…The purpose for this machine is…to produce identification cards for employees working at port facilities, and reduce the security checks for other stakeholders who frequent port facilities,” the Minister stated.He further noted that the card would improve the security standards at port facilities in terms of access control. According to Patterson, persons wanting toUS Ambassador Perry Holloway handed over the equipment for the ID card system to Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson on Fridaybecome a Port Security Officer would be required to complete four modules of training.The implementation of this new system comes as Guyana continues to take the necessary steps to improve security standards at the various port facilities, in accordance with the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code, which was adopted here in 2004 following the 2001 terrorist attack.US Ambassador Perry Holloway explained that after a series of capacity building sessions and quarterly facility visits here by U.S. experts, including the Coast Guard, as well as assessments done, it was determined that this electronic ID Card system is what is needed in Guyana to build on its ongoing improvements in port security.“This ID card programme will allow MARAD to have greater governmental oversight on who is allowed access to the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code-compliant facilities in Guyana… Once the equipment is installed, Guyana will have a port facility identification card programme similar to that in the United States,” the Ambassador stated.The US diplomat went on to note that with oil production on the horizon, business here is expected to bloom, and as such, it is important that MARAD is equipped with the necessary tools to monitor the port facilities.“One of the weaknesses that were identified was access to the port. It was quite easy to get access to the port, and now it’s going to be much more difficult; and not only is it difficult, but if there is need for an investigation or there are accusations, they are going to able to go to this electronic system and have a record of who was in the port, in what part and at what time. So this just gives you control of your port…,” he stated.According to Ambassador Holloway, over US$100,000 has been spent on technical assistance and training, since it is the human expertise that will be needed to detect and determine if anything is amiss using information collected on the ID card system.To this end, Director General of MARAD, Claudette Rogers, noted that the constant training from the US Government has boosted the local maritime capacity, which in turn had increase Guyana’s port security compliance by 26 per cent.“They were able to identify what are some of the deficiencies, and we would’ve been able to take the corrective actions going forward in terms of correcting those deficiencies. And that in itself would have helped us significantly to move our score from 58 to 84 per cent,” she posited.Ambassador Holloway had outlined that deficiencies identified within the local port security had to do with their basic functions, which are monitoring, inspecting and reporting.“We recognised that those who were operating at those port facilities were not adequately trained, did not truly understand and comprehend their roles as port state security officers, and so we were able to point them in that direction, which has helped significantly going forward,” the MARAD Director General noted.MARAD is expected to hold sensitization programmes with owners and operators of the various port facilities before implementing the ID Card system.