Port facilities need to further strengthen their capacities for surveillance and access control, in order to reduce the incidence of stowaways, participants at a regional seminar on stowaways in West and Central Africa agreed.
The IMO Regional Seminar on Stowaways in West and Central Africa: Analysis of the current situation and measures to reduce their number was held in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, from 25 to 27 March 2014, hosted by the Ministry of Transport of Côte d’Ivoire in the premises of the Port of Abidjan.
More than 50 participants, 31 of whom were funded by IMO’s Technical Cooperation programme attended the seminar, including security and immigration officials from the 12 most frequent ports of embarkation of stowaways (major ports of Benin, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo), as identified by the International Group of P&I Clubs.
Representatives of other ports were also present, including ports in Congo and Angola. Representatives of the Côte d’Ivoire Maritime Administration and other local stakeholder agencies in Côte d’Ivoire attended the seminar as well.
The seminar included table-top exercises to facilitate discussions and to identify best practices for avoiding stowaway incidents. The seminar also addressed aspects of security, facilitation of trade and repatriation of stowaways.
Participants agreed that the fact that stowaways are able to have access to port facilities and go on board ships in ports means that any other person with criminal intentions could have access to the port and ships as well. The security regimes of such ports could be improved.
The International Group of P&I Clubs puts the annual cost of all stowaway cases worldwide at approximately US$15.3 million (measured from February 2011 to February 2012).
IMO partnered with the regional Port and Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA) to prepare the seminar. Representatives from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Interpol, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also participated in the seminar, as well as those from the United States Coast Guard, the International Group of P&I Clubs, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and BIMCO.