Thursday, February 23, 2006

What Does A Port Operator Do?

Just what exactly will DP World (the United Arab Emirates company causing the recent contoversy) be doing at the six ports it is scheduled to take over? As is usually the case, you first hear a lot of claims from both sides and only well into the story do people start giving you the facts you need to know to have a reasoned opinion.

The opponents concentrate on the resume of the UAE and how we shouldn't trust our ports to another country. The proponents claim that security will still be under the control of the Coast Guard and Homeland Security. I believe it was Secretary Chertoff who reminded us that cargo will still be moved under the watchful eyes of the International Dock Workers. I can believe and appreciate that the dock workers are doing their part, but this is probably the first nice thing a Republican has said about a union in thirty years.

What will DP World actually be responsible for? Scheduling ships in and out of the port? Loading and unloading cargo? Seeing that containers get moved out of the port and onto their next destination? That's the impression I've gotten, but I'd like to hear their duties spelled out. Administration groupies keep insisting that security is still in the hands of the Coast Guard and Homeland Security. Those who have a problem with this deal don't understand that the ports will be just as safe with DP World. If this were a bank, would you hire a reformed crook as a teller? Even if you have the same guard at the front door?

I have to believe that it would be easier for the port operator or an employee of the port operator to out-flank the security, if they were so inclined, than you or I. Could an employee in Dubia working with an employee in New York have a better chance of getting illicit cargo into this country? Common sense says yes.

I'm still not saying this is a bad deal, but I'm tired of administration mouths acting like we are just as secure no matter who is running the port. Critics say this administration has become tone deaf, I wonder if they haven't just lost their common sense.

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Scottage said...

My understanding is that they will be responsible for all items coming in and out of the port. This would include scheduling arrivals and departures, providing equipment for loading and unloading, storage and release of incoming goods, confirmation of all paper work and bills of lading, referrals of any pertinent shipments to customs including random inspections.

The group's responsibilities will not include any responsibilities with regards to actual people, in other words passport control and security over the port itself. These responsibilities will fall under the perview of the US government, though whcih division is still in question (probably Coast Guard is again what I hear).

LogicalOne said...

So there are, indeed, security issues with this contract. DP World's agreement to postpone the deal to allow for further review shows someone somewhere has some common sense.

Thanks for the info.