Q: Are there holes in the system?
A: Yes. Those who touch the containers earlier in the distribution system - say, at factories and warehouses overseas - don't need a TWIC. So workers without TWICs could access a piece of cargo starting before its arrival on U.S. shores. The restrictions apply only to workers in docks or shipyards - not to truckers or railway workers elsewhere. Also, the requirement that vessels themselves also have their own TWIC program in place applies only to U.S.-flagged vessels - not the foreign-flagged vessels that make up the bulk of international cargo traffic these days. Mariners from overseas whose ship is berthed at a terminal also won't have to get a TWIC - since they generally don't have unescorted terminal access.
Q: Are we one step closer to a national identification card system?
A: Possibly. This effort entails perhaps the biggest effort yet to create a national fingerprint-based database of workers. There's talk of combining this with a system for workers in the aviation industry.
Q: Who has to pay for the cards?
A: The workers will be responsible for paying for the card, which would cost $149 and last five years. Nothing in the rule precludes a company from agreeing to cover the costs as part of their agreements with their workers. The cost of the scanners and the companies running them will mainly be borne by the companies and ports enacting them.
Q: Will this system pertain to all docks?
A: Any companies or maritime entities who have to file security plans under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 have to abide by the TWIC system. This includes about 60 port terminal sites in Hampton Roads - or all those that accept international vessel traffic. Vessels of more than 100 gross tons also have to abide by the rules.
(Daily Press (Newport News, VA) (KRT) -- 06/19/06)