Nov 17, 2015 News
Guyana and US are increasing cooperation to step up security at local airports with improved cargo and passenger screening.
The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will also help
the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), to provide technical support and specialised equipment that will assist in the development of relevant protocols, procedures, processes to improve its aviation security oversight and security operations at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) and Ogle Airport Inc. (OAI).
The agreement, inked between Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, and US Ambassador, Perry Holloway yesterday, will also provide for training opportunities for capacity building in the regulatory and operational environment.
The agreement to establish a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between GCAA and TSA – the agency tasked with safeguarding the USA’s air transport sector from acts of unlawful interference or terrorism- will follow an earlier meeting this year when Patterson met with the US Charge d’ Affaires, Bryan Hunt, and petitioned for technical assistance and regulatory oversight for the maritime and aviation sectors.
According to Government, yesterday, the continued partnership between the two is necessary for the growth of international aviation activities, particularly connectivity between US destinations and Guyana.
“Given the increased challenges faced in the area of aviation security, Guyana welcomes the continued support and commitment of the Government of the United States of America and TSA, to improve its security efforts at our international airports, our regulatory agency and of our country as a whole,” a statement from Government said yesterday.
With North American destinations crucial with a large Guyanese Diaspora there, it was pointed out that Guyana has to meet international requirements for aviation security.
Guyana also has to satisfy the US-TSA of its capability and efforts at maintaining the acceptable level of security in order for the country to continue accessing these destinations.
The agreement between the two regulatory agencies -GCAA and US-TSA– also comes at a time when there is renewed stewardship by the Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson and Director General (ag.), Chaitrani Heeralall, to improve local oversight capability.
According to the ministry, efforts are being made to formalise aviation security oversight by increasing staffing levels which has been significantly lacking in the past years, and strengthening its oversight capability through establishment of legislation and modernising the aviation security regulations and procedures.
Through this new agreement, the US-TSA has already given a commitment to provide two aviation security-training courses to the GCAA in 2016.
The courses are designed to provide capacity building and development for GCAA’s Aviation Security Inspectors.
The commitments will aid the GCAA’s preparation for an upcoming audit under the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Universal Security Audit Programme – Continuous Monitoring Approach (USAP-CMA) scheduled for 2016.
“This audit will determine Guyana’s level of compliance with ICAO Aviation Security Standards and Recommended Practices. The Memorandum of Agreement will also demonstrate to our industry partners both at the international and national levels, including ICAO, FAA, IATA and our domestic industry, of Guyana’s seriousness and commitment to improving and providing appropriate resources and regulatory structure to conduct effective aviation security oversight of the sector,” the ministry explained yesterday.
It was also noted; that events around the world regarding acts of terrorism and unlawful interference over the past weeks, have underscored the challenges faced in aviation security and have been of major concern.
“We will continue to work with our industry partners to establish and implement mechanisms to safeguard this sector while we try to ease the hassle of air travel,” the ministry said.
Ambassador Holloway, during the event held at the ministry’s Kingston offices, said that the signing will keep the skies of not only Guyana, but the region and USA safe and secure.
He explained that the agreement opens up the line “for us to be able to share technical assistance and equipment.”
He said that when TSA conducts another assessment of airport security beginning in January 2016, only then would it be able to determine what further financial support is needed, and whether it would be in the form of specialised equipment.
The MOU as it stands now, Holloway explained, enhances both Guyana and USA-TSA security capacity for passengers, employees and other stakeholders involved in the airport transportation industry. Specifically, the agreement will provide for technical and managerial expertise to assist the GCAA in the development, improvement, and operation of its civil aviation security infrastructure, standards, procedures, policies, training and equipment, he said.
The agreement also provides for training of GCAA personnel in the US or in Guyana and for the provision of resources, logistical support and equipment for facilities.
Holloway reaffirmed the US commitment to continuing to work with the Government of Guyana as “a friend and partner” on civil aviation security, and many other, critical areas.
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