Liberia Maritime Authority’s Deputy Commissioner for Technical Services, Cllr. Charles A. Gono says Incident Management System (IMS) is an essential tool in handling incidents that usually occur with little or no warning signs to inform preparedness and response plan.
Speaking at the start of a four-day national IMS training workshop organized by the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) in partnership with Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa (GI WACAF) Monday, April 29, he notes that major incidents, which are rare, may require a response involving many organizations, including government institutions across multiple jurisdictions and experts from many disciplines.
According to him, such incidents may also involve numerous parallel activities such as search and rescue, ensuring public safety and responders, source control, fire suppression, protecting the environment, securing property and infrastructure from damage, and providing timely communication.
Therefore, Deputy Commissioner Gono stresses that an IMS is an essential tool for overcoming many of these challenges, as it provides clarity in command and control, improves resource coordination and communications, and facilitates the cooperation and integration of responding organizations.
The exercise brings together representatives from LiMA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Port Authority, National Coast Guard under the Ministry of National Defense and the Liberian Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), and is providing Liberia with the opportunity to have an effective Incident Management System that will strengthen its national oil spill preparedness and response system.
The LiMA Deputy Commissioner for Technical Services further emphasizes that the principles of IMS organization were developed in the 1970s by the fire service as a management method for clarifying command relationship and making use of mutual aid for large scale incident involving multiple stakeholders.
Although originally developed to address fires, the IMS concept is now being applied to many other types of emergency events or incidents, including oil spill response.
Cllr. Gono adds that an effective and successful response requires a clear set of objectives, based on ‘SMART’ principle: Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented; Realistic; and Timely.
Speaking earlier, LiMA Director for Marine Environmental Protection, Mr. Daniel Tarr notes that the event seeks to provide a complete overview of the incident management process with an opportunity to test the knowledge acquired through practical demonstration of techniques.
“The exercise would allow the delegates to validate their new skills set and exercise the country’s national incident management plans,” he says.Mr. Tarr, who is also the National Focal Point, said GI WACAF was launched in 2006, between the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and IPIECA, the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues, to enhance the capacity of partner countries to prepare for and respond to marine oil spills.He adds that the mission is to strengthen the national system for preparedness and response in case of an oil spill in 22 West, Central and Southern African Countries in accordance with the provisions set out in the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation, 1990 (OPRC 90).
“Promoting cooperation amongst all relevant government agencies, oil industry business units and stakeholders both nationally, regionally and internationally is a major objective of the project during these activities.”
He says GI WACAF operates and delivers activities with contributions from both the IMO and seven oil companies that are members of IPIECA, namely BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Eni, Shell, Total and Woodside.
Also in remarks, Ms. Emilie Canova, GI WACAF Project Coordinator, welcomes participants to this year’s national training on IMS in Monrovia.“Today, it covers 22 countries in West, Central and Southern Africa. Since its inception, significant progress has been made in improving spill response capabilities by raising awareness through national and regional workshops and training,” she says.
She reminds participants that the collaboration between the Liberian government and GI WACAF is not new adding, “I would like to recall a few steps taken together because the attendance of GI WACAF regional conferences by the national focal point: in 2010, a first National Workshop for the Development of the National Contingency Plan was organized; and more recently in 2016 a National Workshop on Contingency Planning and Sensitivity Mapping was held in Monrovia, which recommended to further include IMS in the NOSCP.” Editing by Jonathan Browne