The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard is to be equipped with more naval assets to protect the country’s borders from the transshipment of illegal guns, according to National Security Minister Emmanuel George.
Asked about recent crime activity in East Port of Spain and Laventille, which left six people dead during a 24- hour period (August 14) and its relationship with the prevalence of small arms, George agreed that these weapons do enter Trinidad and Tobago via its coastline.
He said however the challenge for the Coast Guard was to prevent these items from coming in but the police had to do their part as well.
George was the feature speaker on Tuesday afternoon at the 51st Anniversary Commissioning Ceremony of the Coast Guard at its Staubles Bay Headquarters, Chaguaramas.
He said, “The Government has already signalled the development of new facilities around the coastline of the Republic. Along with this will be the procuring of the appropriate assets and support infrastructure that will assist the Coast Guard in providing a better service to the citizens of this country.”
The list of goodies promised to the Coast Guard for the next fiscal year and beyond are as follows:
• Construction of Coast Guard facilities at Galeota
• Construction of several strategically located bases
• Acquisition of four high-speed interceptor vessels
• Acquisition of several high-speed inboard diesel interceptors
• Construction of ten coastal stations
• Upgrade of the communication system
• Acquisition of a global maritime distress safety system.
According to George, “The Coast Guard’s responsibility for securing our borders and coastlines impacts significantly in stemming the transshipment of illegal drugs, arms and ammunition and the crime of piracy but today in the face of this country’s current crime situation and all the downstream activities associated with the drug trade, the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard must continue to work hard to secure our borders.”
Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard, Darryl Daniel, boasted of his staff’s achievement over the year with the seizure of 177 kilogrammes of marijuana and a kilogramme of cocaine. Daniel explained that on many occasions the illicit cargo is dumped overboard.
“Our sailors go out on our nation’s seas to perform their duties and they are to be applauded for continuing to put themselves in harm’s way in an effort to make Trinidad and Tobago a safer place,” he said.
The commissioning ceremony was complete with the pomp and grandeur that has come to be associated with it every year, complete with an exciting demonstration of a drug bust at sea using the Air Guard’s helicopters and the somewhat violent hand-over of the “criminals” to the police.