Container security essentials


In the last couple of months there has been a significant increase in truck hijacking in South Africa (SA), especially in the hot spot areas like Durban and Johannesburg. What is interesting is the fact that it seems that container loads are right at the top of the list and that the perpetrators don’t care if it means killing people.

What is of concern is the clever way in which they go about in doing this; we have definitely seen an increase in sophistication in the syndicates operating in these environments.

The amount of electronics that is used is staggering; things such as jamming devices for tracking units are common not to mention the swapping of horses at designated rest stops for drivers.

One could surmise that the reason for this has to do with the value of the content of the containers as well as the fact that containers have traditionally been easy targets as you only have to offload one item – a container.

We have also, over last couple of months, discovered how all these syndicates have infiltrated the factories as well as assembly plants. They know exactly what containers to hit and where, which again calls for the need to have some sort of independent verification system in place.

Most of the containers, which are shipped to the harbours, are hijacked prior to reaching the harbours. In some instances these shipments come from as far as Lesotho and Swaziland and often travel off the beaten track, which makes for some very difficult circumstances to actually secure such shipments, and to add insult to injury, these loads are normally shipped by local transport companies that often form part of the syndicate operations.

The question now, obviously, is what we can do to at least try and make this as secure as possible. We have found that in most instances the Transport companies have very limited GIT insurance, not that the insurance really helps as it still does not replace the product and the roll-on effect is the lost sale which can never be replaced.

As part of our ongoing quest to find sustainable solutions for these challenges Professional Risk and Asset Management have had significant success in finding solutions. We can report that in last two and a half years and 2 000 containers later we have not lost one container nor has anything been removed from any container prior to reaching port.

This in itself and given the current situation nationally, is a huge achievement. I need to at this stage point out that these are not our containers but containers that are shipped from our clients and we have been tasked to make sure that the containers reach port safely and without any tampering.

What makes this process, in our opinion, unique is the fact that very little human intervention is required. We are a company that does not believe in violence and we don’t believe in placing armed escorts behind such loads as firstly it will only attract unwanted attention, and secondly should a hijacking actually take place all that will happen is people will get killed.

Instead we believe that a lot can be done by applying basic security principles, such as:

Making sure what is in the container is actually what is supposed to be in the container

ensuring that independent verification is in place

Eaking sure that the container is sealed and verified independently with a proper audit trail

Applying electronic measures to ensure the integrity of the container throughout the process, right up to port

Ensuring that a detailed audit is done without opening the container prior to port entrance.

Again the entire process has a complete and detailed audit trail. What makes this entire system so unique is that it is not relying on the transporter to do anything – everything is done independently – and can be monitored anywhere in the world. The cost of this integrated system is insignificant compared to not having the system.

With operations nationally as well as internationally we can most certainly take care of your container security. Remember the secret to this is the fact that we are not relying on just one thing but rather a complete integrated process from manufacturing or assembly right through to port with information available to both you and your customers at the press of a button.

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