KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The proximity of the Grenadines Wharf to the Cruise Ship Terminal here is of special concern to port security officials in the United States since it could lead to “contamination”.
Travellers to the Grenadines often face the inconvenience of having their person and belongings searched by police in Kingstown, Northern Grenadines representative Dr. Godwin Friday told Parliament Monday.
He asked Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr. Ralph Gonsalves if there is a policy of searching every person travelling to that part of this multi-island nation.
Gonsalves said that while no such policy exists, police search conduct searches at the port based on “intelligence”.
He, however, said the close proximity of the Cruise Terminal and the Grenadines Ferry Pier “is a challenge” that “demands that special security arrangement be put in place”.
He told lawmakers that port security officials in the United States say the situation could lead to “contamination”.
“It is not a word that I would use but they are using it from the standpoint of security – especially when cruise ships are in port,” Gonsalves said.
Border security issues are serious, including in relations to stolen and smuggled goods, and illegal drugs, he said, noting the 360-degree radar surveillance of St. Vincent.
And with the International Shipping and Port Security Code, the government has had to spend about EC$4 million to made changes at the ports and spends EC$1.7 million annually on port security.
Further, the United States makes unannounced security evaluations of the nation’s ports.
The latest was in February, with positive review, and Gonsalves said that if the country fails the inspections, the United States could restrict its ships from sailing here.
“If we don’t pass the security checks, we can put restrictions on us in respect of vessels coming to St. Vincent. Can you imagine a vessel leaving the United States [and] they say you can’t come to St. Vincent because you don’t have proper port security? Do you know what that means for us? We buy goods and services,” Gonsalves said.
He further said that the inspections by the U.S. officials have not found any major security breach or defect at the nation’s ports, including those outside of Kingstown.