Bahrain 'must be vigilant to ensure border security'
Manama, April 17, 2014
Bahrain must remain ever vigilant in the ongoing fight to keep its borders secure and air travel safe.
That was the message at the opening of the second Joint Conference on Enhancing Air Cargo Security and Facilitation yesterday, hosted by the Transportation Ministry at the Gulf Hotel, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The high-level meeting has been attended by around 300 customs and aviation experts from 45 countries and will end today.
International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) secretary-general Raymond Benjamin said in his opening speech that Bahrain played an integral role in both security and customs, but stressed that international collaboration was key to maintaining a smooth flow of trade.
"The world's airlines transported more than 49 million tonnes of cargo in 2012, which represents approximately one-third of the value of all international trade," said Mr Benjamin.
This, alongside the billions of passengers who travel through all the world's airports, means a greater level of security is required to ensure the safety of air cargo.
"One such example was the October 2010 plot to sabotage two aircraft using improvised explosive devices hidden in computer cartridges," he said.
Incidents like this proved the need for greater international co-operation, according to Benjamin.
"The threats will always be there, but we need to make sure trade flow is safe and secure or else it will be a catastrophe," he told the GDN on the sidelines of the conference.
Transportation Minister Kamal Ahmed attended the conference alongside Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa and other senior government officials.
Ahmed used his speech to emphasise the increased risks and challenges that the aviation industry faces, in light of the increased number of passengers and products being transported.
"Bahrain has established the Gulf Aviation Academy to train personnel in this field, and about 100 cadets have been trained as part of the plan," he said.
"The Middle East has a high rate of economic growth as it continues to develop and face new challenges that can be dealt with through training and advanced technology."
World Customs Organisation secretary-general Kunio Mikuriya pointed to the way illicit trade can be combated through international collaboration.
"Borders divide and customs connect," he said.
"In order for legitimate trade to flourish, it is important to control illicit trade at borders such as narcotics, fake medicines and other products that affect the environment."
And the threat from terrorism must never go ignored, International Air Transport Association customs and cargo trade facilitation senior manager Gordon Wright said.
"The fact remains that we must continue to remain ever vigilant against the risk of attacks by terrorists and other criminals who seek to either harm our industry, or use it for their own political agendas," he said.
Today, conference delegates will hold panel discussions on both current international aviation trade issues and emerging security protocols. - TradeArabia News Service