For almost two years, the MACN Secretariat in Copenhagen has been unable to meet up with partners from India due to the massive restrictions imposed by the country’s Covid-19 lockdown.
So when Jonas Søberg Erlandsen, MACN Senior Lead in South Asia, and the rest of the team arrived in May, the visit was long-awaited. During the stay, Jonas and the team held 11 intense meetings with both private and public partners involved in the fight against maritime corruption.
“While online meetings have enabled us to stay in touch, one cannot replace the one-to-one physical meetings we have with our partners. This is especially true when meeting people for the first time, since our work relies on establishing mutual trust,” says Jonas Søberg Erlandsen.
Local MACN Representation
For most of MACNs in country work, we have local partners to handle day-to-day tasks but for India we decided to have a full-time resource based in Mumbai.
According to Jonas Søberg Erlandsen the presence of Mr. Soumya Prakash Dalua, MACN Project Manager in India, has yielded great benefits in the daily dialogue and enhanced the agility of staff who are responsible for organizing local events. MACN has also recruited Mr Deepak Shetty, Former Secretary to the Government of India and Director General of Shipping, as MACNs Senior Advisor who has been key in helping MACN establish contact with senior level stakeholders across the public and private sector.
By the end of July, the local MACN representation in Mumbai will be staffed by three people who will be working out of Mumbai, which is the commercial capital of India and the place most stakeholders have their headquarter in the country.
Ready for action
MACN first engaged with India in 2015, and a “Say-no-to-corruption” campaign was successfully launched in 2019 across the ports of Mumbai as a collective action with the Indian government, international organizations, and local industry stakeholders.
MACN will this year – together with the Indian National Shipowners Association and UN Global Compact Networks – take the next steps in launching the MACN HelpDesk. India will then become the fourth country to implement the HelpDesk, following in the footsteps of Nigeria in 2019, Ukraine in 2020 and Egypt in 2021.
In short, the local HelpDesk provides instant assistance from the MACN local office for vessels susceptible to corruption. The HelpDesk therefore empowers the private sector to not only say no to corruption but document any corrupt demands and immediately escalate such incidents to the partners who can assist in mitigate these risks, thus reducing delays at ports.
Positive industry response
According to Jonas Søberg Erlandsen the will to fight maritime corruption in India is remarkably strong, and the MACN team has been met by open doors and a great willingness to discuss further anti-corruption initiatives.
“Based on our meetings I predict that within the next two years, we will have ‘Say No to Corruption’ campaigns set up in the majority of the major ports in India, also supported by the HelpDesk concept,” says Jonas Søberg Erlandsen and continues:
“It is extremely important that all parts of the maritime industry get involved, since it only takes one rotten apple to sour the whole barrel. We rely on complete cooperation throughout.”
MACN will visit India again late July to build on the constructive dialogue established at the meetings in May and to launch the “Say No” campaign in Chennai.