Saturday 17 August, 2019

Coast Guard to get new patrol vessels to man illegal points of entry

The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG) is set to get two new patrol boats to assist in its efforts to secure the country's borders.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said on Friday that Cabinet has approved the purchase of two Cape class vessels from Australian shipyard Austal. 

The vessels are to be built to T&T's specifications and they are being ordered through a loan arrangement with the Australian government. 

Rowley said the purchase of the vessels are necessary for the TTCG to be able to address the entry of illegal items into this country.

The PM lamented that the largest chunk of the national budget is allocated to National Security instead of towards initiatives that could aid in the development of the country. 

He noted that Trinidad has some 140 points of entry where criminals are known to bring in guns and ammunition while 18 such illegal entry points exist in Tobago.

“That suggests to us that it is relatively easy for objects and persons to enter our national space, bringing with them attitudes and items which can contribute to the disquiet and the violence that we are experiencing from arms and ammunition and attitudes and behaviors associated with the criminal conduct in Trinidad and Tobago," the Prime Minister said.

Rowley added that many of the assets purchased for the TTCG's use in the past are now in a state of disrepair. 

He said while efforts are being made to repair some of these assets, the purchase of the new patrol vessels will give the TTCG a capability they currently do not have.

Rowley said negotiations regarding the price of the vessels are ongoing and the order will be placed once the negotiations are settled.

“We are treating with the Coast Guard issues to improve the ability of the Coast Guard to ameliorate or eliminate the penetration of our borders by local persons and foreigners who come to Trinidad and Tobago bringing arms, ammunition and people, the intention of which is to act in an unlawful manner in Trinidad and Tobago.”

Rowley toured the TTCG headquarters at Staubles Bay, Chaguaramas on Friday and said he was pleased by what he saw. 

He was accompanied by National Security Minister Edmund Dillon and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young. 

The tour afforded the media and the public a rare opportunity to view the TTCG fleet of vessels. 

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