AN audit report has named the Port Elizabeth Harbour the third safest of South Africa's eight ports in terms of security.
Every four years all ports around the country undergo a week-long security audit to ensure compliance with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.
The regulations – which are put in place and governed by the International Maritime Organisation – have to be met in order to allow international trade through the ports.
Although all ports in South Africa abide by the regulations, the audit revealed that some ports implement stricter protocols than others.
This is the first year any awards have been given in relation to compliance with ISPS regulations.
The ports' compliance with the international regulations was revealed during an award ceremony at the World Maritime Day Celebrations in Kimberley on September 26.
At a gala dinner, Transport Deputy Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga announced that the Port of Port Elizabeth was the third safest port in the country, after Richard's Bay in top spot and Cape Town in second place.
Transnet National Ports Authority Port Elizabeth security manager Nelson Masophi – a former police colonel who took over port security for Transnet five years ago – said he was "amazed, proud and shocked" when Port Elizabeth was awarded the prize.
Masophi said the upgrade of hi-tech security surveillance cameras and the launch of a 24-hour bike patrol in and around the harbour showed that port security exceeded regulation guidelines.
One of the main contributing factors for achieving the award was that Masophi founded a multistakeholder committee called the Maritime Security Committee.
"This committee includes all role-players from the Department of Health, customs, the police, immigration, navy and the defence force. The committee allows us to exchange ideas and allows us to strengthen our working relationships to ensure speedy and efficient security at the port."