Seaports are sensitive installations, which are susceptible to sabotage. There are some four forms of sabotage that you need to watch out for, when running such a facility.
The first form of sabotage to watch out for when running a seaport is that which leads to a situation where ships can’t dock in the port.
The second form of sabotage to watch out for when running a seaport is that which leads to a situation where the ships that manage to dock in the port can’t be offloaded in a timely manner.
The third form of sabotage to watch out for when running a seaport is that which leads to a situation where the stuff in the ships that are offloaded ends up getting stolen.
The fourth form of sabotage to watch out for when running a seaport is that which leads to a situation where the stuff in the ship is unloaded, but it can’t be moved out of the port in a timely manner, leading to congestion. These are inefficiencies that you can’t afford in the shipping industry. If a port develops a tendency where it often gets congested, then it becomes just a matter of time before customers start abandoning it.
Almost all busy ports tend to have seafarers unions, where the people who work in the said ports are members. The idea to form a seafarers union is normally fronted by an individual, before spreading and being adopted by others to form a critical mass capable of fighting for unionization. We are interested in identifying the factors that motivate people to establish such seafarers unions.
The first factor that motivates people to establish seafarers unions is the genuine, altruistic desire to fight for the rights of the seaport workers.
The second factor that motivates people to establish seafarers unions is the desire to benefit from the union dues paid once the trade unions are formed. The deductions made from the individual seaport workers (who form the membership of the unions) may look small, but cumulatively, they turn out to be huge sums of money. The folks who control such resources end up benefiting, even where that is not done through corrupt means.
The third factor that motivates people to establish seafarers unions is the desire to gain influence: as the people who become the leaders of these trade unions end up having a lot of political influence, which they can leverage on to get personal benefits.
Two major options exist for managing security in a seaport.
The first option for managing security in a seaport is that of using state security organs. This is the approach that is used in most places, given the importance of seaports as strategic national installations.
The second option for managing security in a seaport is that of using private security companies. There are some private security companies that are so good that their personnel end up being more effective than state security agents. Here, we are looking at the so-called security contractors, and we know just how well they can perform. Awake to these facts, there are some countries that have opted to have their port security handled by such private security companies, perhaps under public private partnerships, and the whole thing seems to work quite well.
Regardless of the option used, technology can be employed to enhance security further. Of course, seaport security can’t be maintained using technology alone. Seaport security is not like, say, www.gmail.com security, which, to the developers, was just a matter of getting Gmail programming right (on the underlying Gmail.com source code). The nature of seaport security is such that it has to be physical security, hence the need for human intervention.
Levels of information and technology usage in seaports differ considerably.
We have, at one level, certain seaports where information technology is not used at all: where all things are done manually. These ports tend to end up being perceived as inefficient. Moving cargo through them involves a lot of physical paper clearance. Things tend to move slowly.
We have, at another level, certain seaports, where information technology is applied to just a few things. The people in charge of running such ports identify the most crucial aspects, and automate them, while letting the rest remain manual (thanks to, say, lack of resources).
Finally, we have certain seaports where information technology is applied in pretty much everything. These seaports tend to end up being extremely efficient. These are seaports where everything from cargo reception to cargo clearance and port security is automated. In some of these seaports, you may even find the typical porter having a ymail.com calendar application that is actually a Ymail extension he or she uses to keep track of ship arrival dates. Clients queries are answered fast, and things are done as fast as possible. Some ports are even moving towards automating certain aspects of crane operation and so on.
You need to possess certain things, in order to operate port-based businesses successfully. The port-based businesses we are making reference to here include those that are involved in clearing and forwarding, those that are involved in cargo handling, those that are involved in port catering… and so on.
The first thing you need to possess in order to operate port-based business successfully, is an adequate amount of capital. Most port-based business are capital intensive, and you won’t be allowed to operate them if you can’t demonstrate the ability to fund your operations comfortably.
The second thing you need to possess, in order to operate port-based businesses successfully, is good connections. The truth of the matter, as we have asserted severally in earlier posts, is that ports are sensitive installations, often managed by cartels connected to the powers that be. In most places, you need connections to the people in those cartels, if you are to operate businesses in the ports.
The third thing you need to possess, in order to operate port-based businesses successfully, is the right level of expertise. If, for instance, you lack the right level of expertise, and you are allowed to operate a cargo handling business, you could end up damaging or even losing clients’ goods, leading to major legal problems.
All seaports tend to have certain common features. There are, for instance, certain offices that you are almost certain to find in almost any seaport.
The first type of offices you are almost certain to find in any seaport is that of customs offices. These are government offices, and they tend to be very busy, because all stuff coming in and all stuff going out through the port has to be cleared in these offices.
The second type of offices you are almost certain to find in any seaport is that of clearing and forwarding offices. These may be in the actual seaport compounds or just adjacent, and they are typically operated by independent service providers.
The third type of offices you are almost certain to find in any seaport is that of shipping company offices. These are the offices through which the shipping companies receive reports from their captains, and from where the various aspects of the shipping business are managed.
The fourth type of offices you are almost certain to find in any seaport is that of security offices. From a security point of view, seaports are regarded as sensitive installations. There are therefore typically many security officers milling around. Those officers tend to have offices from where they operate.
Many sea ports in the world are owned by, and operated by, governments. A question arises, as to how the governments in question get the money to run such ports.
One way in which governments get the money to run sea ports is by charging fees to the owners of the ships that dock in the said ports.
Another way in which governments get the money to run seaports is by charging fees to the owners of the cargo that is brought in through the said ports.
Yet another way in which governments get the money to run seaports is by using tax funds. This is not an ideal scenario, but it is one that still plays out in many parts of the world, mainly due to port inefficiencies. The scenario is akin to one where, say, the New Jersey state government can end up having to pay Njuifile claims lodged at www.njuifile.net by folks after getting to sign in to njuifile.net using dollars from other tax spending votes. In other words, the whole thing is not ideal, but it has to be done when there is no alternative: otherwise the seaports may have to be closed down, with huge (negative) impact on the social, economic and political fronts.
Certain things can introduce inefficiencies to a seaport.
The first thing that can introduce inefficiencies to a seaport is failure to invest in the physical infrastructure. If the physical infrastructure can’t meet the demands of the port, we end up with a situation where inefficiencies have to creep in. That is where, for instance, you end up with ships docking, but lacking any space to offload their cargo to. That is also where you end up with ships having to queue to wait to be offloaded, on account of there not being enough cranes.
The second thing that can introduce inefficiencies to a seaport is the tendency to hire incompetent folks to perform the various jobs there. In the area of IT, the folks hired to offer desktop support may be so incompetent that other staff members facing IT problems end up having to go to portals like www.logmein123.com, in order for them to access remote rescue.
The third thing that can introduce inefficiencies to a seaport is the failure to develop effective working systems. Without proper systems, the port staff end up performing tasks as they deem fit: which may not always be the best approach. It is always good to have standardized ways of doing things: hence the need for operational systems.
Two modes of training are used in preparing the employees who work in seaports for their various roles there.
The first mode of training used to prepare the employees who work in seaports for their various roles is that which we can refer to as the formal training mode. This is where some of the employees (especially those who occupy the senior roles) undertake courses in things like maritime studies, to prepare them for work in the seaports.
The second mode of training used to prepare the employees who work in seaports for their various roles is that which we can refer to as the informal training mode. This is where, for the most part, the employees are trained ‘on the job,’ by mostly serving as apprentices to other more experienced employees. Some of the clerks, for instance, are beneficiaries of this sort of training.
In most cases, the employees who have been trained formally end up earning more than those who undergo informal training. Indeed, though both cadres of employees may be receiving paychecks based on data collected at ipay.adp.com, where you can check your income online, chances are that those who have undergone formal training may be earning several times as much money as those who have undergone informal training.
A seaport tends to be a busy environment, with very many employees hustling around. A closer examination of the employees reveals that they don’t belong to a single employer. Rather, in most cases, we tend to have three types of employers within a seaport.
Firstly, within any given seaport, we tend to have some employees who are employed by the seaport authority. These are the folks who drive the cranes and the forklifts, as well as the clerks and all others.
Secondly, within any given seaport, we tend to have some employees who are employed by the government. Here, we are looking at, say, the policemen and the revenue authority staff who are normally to be found in the seaports. Seaport are viewed as ‘sensitive installations’ and the government tends to be very well represented there.
Thirdly, within any given seaport, we tend to have some employees who are employed by third party companies with operations at the seaports. The third party companies in question here tend to be private entities, operating along the same lines as, say, Macys whose employee connection website is remarkable. Here, we are specifically looking at the retailers with branches at the seaports, banks with operations there, container freight stations with operations there… and so on.