By Mike Puia
SOLOMON Islands has the potential of being a hub port for neighboring countries. An International Maritime Organization (IMO) consultant, Alper Keceli, believes so.
Currently Keceli is in Honiara to attend the fifth IMO marine seminar which opens at the Heritage Park Hotel yesterday.
In the Forum yesterday, Keceli said Solomon Islands host most heavy maritime traffic in its sub region of Micronesia.
He said given this, the country has capacity of receiving containers as transit port and transport with feeder ships to sub region countries.
Talking about the seminar, Keceli explained IMO, a UN special agency which is based in London, has technical cooperation programme for improving integration of member states to its international instruments.
He said one of the important IMO conventions is Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, 1965 (FAL).
He said as IMO consultants they are here to promote this “important” Convention by encouraging non-contracting governments to ratify it and implement its requirements in their ship clearance process at ports.
Keceli said the seminar will help simplify ship clearance process before their arrival to the port, their stay at ports and their departures.
He said it is important that ports use the IMO FAL standard forms for clearance of ships, their cargoes, crew and passengers.
Keceli said the convention is encouraged to enhance collaboration between all public authorities as marine division, port authorities, customs, health, immigration, agriculture and security.
Keceli said Solomon Islands need to ratify more IMO conventions and try to implement them effectively.
He pointed out that Solomon Islands should give priority to ratify FAL Convention as soon as possible.
After the seminar, all public and business stakeholders should be able to enhance their coordination between each other.
The seminar focuses on the importance of establishing electronic data interchange systems for ship clearance at ports instead of using paper forms.
There is plan to establish a national maritime facilitation committee, select a lead agency for establishing national maritime single window system and transfer all public works to electronic environment.
Keceli said these are essential for the smooth operation of Solomon Islands national port.
Representatives from public authorities like the Marine Division, Solomon Islands Port Authorities, Customs, Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Immigration, Agriculture and Security are attending the three day seminar.