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Coast Guard, Customs now better equipped

Coast Guard, Customs now better equipped

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The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Coast Guard and the Customs and Excise Department are now better equipped to secure this country’s borders and to pursue criminals who prowl the coastline.

On Friday June 27, the Government handed over three Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB), each with the capacity to hold ten persons and go at a speed of 45 knots. The RHIBs will be used jointly by the Coast Guard and Customs and Excise Department.{{more}}

Speaking at the handing over ceremony last Thursday 26th June at the Coast Guard base at Calliaqua, Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Ralph Gonzalves said that the Coast Guard and the Customs are in the process of rapid modernization and although he would not specify the technicalities of the RHIBs, he gave the assurance that the boats, which cost $1.5 million, are well equipped for the job at hand.

Dr Gonzalves said there are certain principles on which he is seeking to build an overwhelming consensus. These include the defence of our territorial integrity and the maintenance of law and order.

The Prime Minister said there are some persons who are involved in drug trafficking and money laundering who think that they have the monopoly on physical coercion. Dr Gonsalves said that he wants to inform them that “They neither have the monopoly, or if in a particular area, among a small group, that they have, it is not legitimate”.

Sending a message to those on the wrong side of the law, the Prime Minister said, “Those who believe that they are untouchable or that they are powerful, I will act within the interest of the people and within the law and the legal institutions of the state”.

Noting that it was “Not a happy day” for those persons involved in drug trafficking, Dr Gonslaves said the government is making sure that the law enforcement officers are comfortable and they have the equipment necessary to carry out their jobs.

Also addressing the handing over ceremony, Commissioner of Police Keith Miller said that the RHIBs will help to interface with criminals who bring in narcotics and firearms to the country. He stated that they are doing everything in their power to “stamp out criminality”.

Also addressing the gathering was the Comptroller of Customs and Excise Department Grenville John who said that it was a historic day for his department.

He said in 2006, a survey revealed that there were “significant revenue leakages in the yachting sector”. John stated that the government was losing millions of dollars due to the “non-compliance of yachts leaving and entering the state”.

He noted that this brought with it a number of security risks because there was uncertainty about what the yachts bring in to and take out of the country.

Therefore, the decision was taken to purchase the vessels because the problem goes beyond yachts. John said that there is also a problem of smuggling in this country. He stated that smugglers have a detrimental effect on the state, which went beyond the loss of revenue. He stated that smugglers could introduce pests and diseases, which can have a devastating effect on plants, animals and humans. Being a multi island state, the Comptroller said, our challenges were even more acute. He feels the RHIBs will assist his department with carrying out their mandate. (VM)







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