Mother of 6 gains port security diploma in Israel

Her journey in education and life started in 1979 as a primary school student in Western Highlands Province (WHP) and recently in 2019 she achieved a Diploma in Maritime and Port Security at the Galilee International Management Institute (GIMI) in Israel.

Originally a trained primary school teacher, Mrs Nellie Konga, age 45, is from a mix parentage of WHP (father Philip Lai) and Enga Province (mother Cecilia Lai) and is currently the team leader-security administration with PNG Ports Corporation Limited (PNG Ports). She has been with the security department for the past three (3) years.

She lost her husband, late Mr. John F. Konga in a tragic accident in 2013 and has been looking after their six children while progressing in her respective careers as a trainer and as a maritime port security professional.

Some of her children are now adults namely Athenesius (28 yrs), Adrian (25 yrs), Annatascia (21 yrs), Alexander (19 yrs), and Felicianna (17 yrs) with the only youngest Alistair four years old but despite the challenges of a mother and without the support of her husband, Nellie continues to strive for excellence.

Nellie started school at Mt. Hagen primary school in 1979 and finished in 1984, she then attended Notre Dame high school from 1985 to 1988 and then achieved a certificate in primary education after attending Holy Trinity teacher’s college from 1989 to 1990 followed by a diploma in primary education also at Holy Trinity teacher’s college in the year 2005.

She also completed various authorised training courses and was certified by the National Training Council as a trainer at security company, G4S.

Nellie joined PNG Ports from G4S where she was working as a senior compliance and training instructor with office manageress as an additional role.

While the security role at PNG Ports does not require any physical appearance; her role is very challenging in that she and her male colleagues have to ensure all ports under the management of PNG Ports must be compliant with the International Shipping and Port Security (ISPS) code under the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

“I develop and implement work programs, coordinate ISPS schedule for all ports, carry out security investigation when security issues arise according to company guidelines, ensure all periodical and incidental reports are accurate and submitted on time and do monitoring as well.”

“I assist with identifying and developing strategies to safe guard the business interests of the company,” Mrs Konga said.

She said working for PNG Ports is exciting but working in a male dominated area is very challenging as masculinity often define security according to physical strength and categorise women to be fragile and defenceless.

However, the term security at PNG Ports is greater in definitions than ordinary day to day security.

“Security at PNG Ports is mostly run by the port bible (ISPS Code) and it does not require one with physical strength to carryout security roles.”

“Rather it’s about how well one can identify security threats, intensify vulnerable areas of security, think strategically and coordinate security in accordance with the ISPS Code and can prevent, deter and defend security hazards,” Mrs Konga said.

“I am thankful to the former Security Manager, Mr. Titus Edoni, who helped me settle in well at PNG Ports when I first joined in 2016. He was kind of my role model providing constant guidance and support which was a great learning experience for me as I took on my new role within the Security Department,” she said.

After learning of the maritime and port security training program from a colleague at Motukea port this year, Nellie submitted her application with the hope of securing a fully sponsored space and was lucky to be awarded the sponsorship by the IMO.

Nellie wishes to continue to work as a team for the effectiveness and perfection for the betterment of PNG Ports with her latest training and to provide assistance and cooperation when needed and be able to impart the knowledge and skill that she possesses.

The maritime and port security training which was held from the 25th of June to the 8th of July, 2019 will help her in her role and she can help to improve maritime and port security operations with management support to accomplish her plans.

Mrs Konga said ports are significant in boosting a country’s economy and security and safety of the vessels, cargoes and people involved in the port is paramount in this aspect. Therefore, the training was focused on maritime security both on shore and off shore.

She said the program was taught for the purpose of getting information for preventing different security threats and in order to identify security risks but all in accordance to the ISPS Code.

Nellie should now be able to do effective port facility security assessments (PFSA) and port facility security plans (PFSP) which are the vital part of ports existence.

“We cannot cut and paste PFSA and PFSP because it had existed before thus, port has to be strategically assessed every time there is a change and the security threats and vulnerable areas have to be intensively identified and analysed to suit the environment.”

“It (training) is beneficial to me because I am part of the team that would increase capacity for innovative planning, implementing policies in response to maritime and port security and would use tactical skills to do the PFSA and PFSP,” Mrs Konga said.

“The program was very intensive but facilitated by university professors in maritime, lecturers from Israel Maritime College and a psychologist who studies terrorism.”

“The course also provided opportunity for us to visit the two biggest ports of Israel Ashdod and Haifa to see access control to and from the ports, how containers are stored, how the port was built, how security is monitored and the kind of security equipment used to detect security threats,” she said.

The program was supported by IMO who sponsored 29 successful women applicants throughout the third world countries.

This sponsorship coincided with the 2019 World Maritime Day theme of ‘Empowering Women in Maritime Communities’.

Eight men also attended the course under self-sponsorship from their various companies due to the importance of the program.

The GIMI was established in 1987, focusing on delivering intensive short courses which are internationally recognised to up-skill people from various fields of professions.

“My advice to the female students out there is that maritime and port security is definitely challenging but with self-perseverance one can achieve more and excel with positivity. Nothing is too bad or too difficult so have no limits; only sky is the limit,” Mrs Konga said.

Nellie is thankful to her family and PNG Ports for all the support and will put to good use what she has learnt from her training.

Article By FRANK ASAELI – PNG Ports Senior Public Relations Officer