As a component of a net zero emissions strategy, many logistics businesses are exploring alternative modes of transport, including less polluting modes such as rail and inland waterways. While different than other modes, security and safety hazards still exist. Thus, proactive risk mitigation to protect against loss, damage, and theft is required, particularly during transshipment operations.  

Logistics landscape and security objectives

In the realm of logistics on inland waterways, the focal point of risk assessment is understanding and evaluating local infrastructure in the context of security. The objective is to devise a robust security management plan that ensures seamless operational processes during transshipment, while prioritising the safety of personnel and cargo.

The core of a security management plan should revolve around four key elements: deterrence, detection, delay, and response. This strategic framework aims to prevent illicit activities through physical or psychological barriers, swiftly detect and assess security breaches, introduce delays to unauthorised actions, and deploy effective responses to safeguard the transshipment process.

The core of a security management plan should revolve around four key elements: deterrence, detection, delay, and response.

Risk determination criteria

Before crafting a comprehensive risk mitigation plan, it's crucial to grasp the intricacies of transshipment risks and associated security considerations. Téthys’ approach involves applying structured criteria to assess risks linked to the cargo and the waterway environment. These criteria guide risk assessments and inform tailored security recommendations.

Téthys categorise risk factors into two main types:

Contributing risk factors including phases of transit and stationary positions, environmental influences, designated parking areas, presence of barge crews, heightened risk scenarios due to safety concerns and media presence.
Predefined risks covering unauthorised access, theft, assault, fire risk, manipulation of ship engines or propellers and acts of vandalism.


In summary, these criteria focus on the likelihood of unauthorised access and intrusion, pivotal in assessing navigational risks and formulating effective security strategies.

Comprehensive risk assessment

Risk assessment should encompass a thorough site survey and analysis of socio-economic and environmental factors along the waterway. By collaborating with national and regional security authorities, it is possible to enhance understanding of potential threats and tailor security measures accordingly.

Navigational route assessment is of great importance, deploying tailored security measures based on cargo characteristics, transit phases, and potential risk scenarios. Environmental evaluation is similarly key to success, leveraging ‘Crime Prevention through Environmental Design’ (CPTED) principles to identify vulnerabilities and implement protective measures. Country-specific analysis is additionally prudent, incorporating insights from local law enforcement and stakeholders to address specific risks associated with inland navigation.

Read More:TT Club: Safety culture essential for a sustainable supply chain

Security management plan

Building upon the holistic risk assessment, a robust security management plan should be developed that aligns security capabilities with identified risks. This plan should integrate personnel, procedures, technologies, and quality assurance measures to support deterrence, detection, delay, and response strategies.

For cargo shipments on inland waterways, the significant risk factor is the unauthorised access to the vicinity of the transhipment, including barges and push boats. That particular risk factor increases as the speed decreases down to engine stop, such as where the transshipment passes nautical obstacles such as bridges, ship locks or chokepoints, terminals or waiting points, bunkering stations, and border crossing points.

the significant risk factor is the unauthorised access to the vicinity of the transhipment
The security management plan should be based on the pillars of communication, personnel, equipment and CPTED and associated with a quality assurance management system and incident monitoring, reporting and investigations system.

However, a security plan is a 'living' document and requires review, adjustment and modifications as required by the actual location to achieve best security conditions for a safe and secure

arrival at the designated site.


Each transhipment operation presents unique challenges and demands, tailored risk analysis and security measures, emphasising the importance of proactive risk mitigation and comprehensive security planning to protect valuable cargo during inland navigation.

Collaborative risk identification and security planning with local partners is essential, ensuring that critical transhipment points are fortified against theft and loss. By integrating these measures into a comprehensive security management plan, operators can fortify the resilience of cargo shipments on inland waterways, supporting safe and secure operations.

Source: TT Club


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Issue 90 of Robban Assafina

(Mar./April 2024)


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