Monrovia – 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.
Cllr. Gono spoke at the beginning 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 (GIWACAF) on Monday, April 29. The initiative is meant for marine environmental specialists.
According to him, major incidents, which are rare, may require a response involving many organizations, including government institutions across multiple jurisdictions and experts from many disciplines.
Such incidents, he said, may also involve numerous parallel activities such as search and rescue, ensuring the safety of the public and responders, source control, fire suppression, protecting the environment, securing property and infrastructure from damage, and providing timely communication.
“IMS is an essential tool for overcoming many of these challenges; adding that it provides clarity in command and control, improves resource coordination and communications, and facilitates the cooperation and integration of responding organizations”
The event, which brought together representatives from LiMA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Port Authority (NPA), National Coast Guard under the Ministry of National Defense and the Liberian Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Service (LISGIS), is providing Liberia with the opportunity to have an effective Incident Management System that will strengthen its national oil spill preparedness and response system.
He explained 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 applied to many other types of emergency events or incidents, including oil spill response.
“IMS is absolutely important because many incidents happen with little or no advanced warning and require an immediate response by the industry operators and supporting response organizations.”
An effective and successful response, he further asserted, requires a clear set of objectives. The objectives should be based on ‘SMART’ principle: Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Timely.
Speaking earlier, LiMA Director for Marine Environmental Protection, Daniel Tarr told participants that the event seeks to provide a complete overview of the incident management process with the 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 said.
Mr. Tarr, who is also the National Focal Point, revealed that 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 said 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).
To achieve its mission, Tarr narrated that GI WACAF project organizes and delivers workshop, seminars, and exercises, that aim to communicate good practice in all aspects of spill preparedness and response, drawing on expertise and experience from within governments, industries and other organizations working in this specialized field.
“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 added.
He furthers that GI WACAF operates and delivers activities with contributions from both the IMO and seven oil company members of IPIECA, namely BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Eni, Shell, Total and Woodside.
Also in remarks, Emilie Canova, GI WACAF Project Coordinator, welcomed participants to this year’s national training on IMS in Monrovia. She spoke on behalf of IMO and IPEICA, the global oil and gas association for environmental and social issues.
“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 revealed.
Ms. Canova acknowledged the engagement of Liberia in the GI WACAF project and reminded 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.”
According to her, the current workshop will focus on the planning aspects of the IMS. “We will thus build upon the advancements already achieved by the Government of Liberia and consolidate the knowledge acquired in recent years.”
She told the participants that the workshop will be facilitated by two consultants, who are experts in the field of oil spill preparedness and response, namely Richard Sims and John Tulloch from Ambipar.