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PM wary of 150 illegal ports of entry

Published: 
Saturday, July 28, 2018
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley during his visit to the T&T Coast Guard’s headquarters at Staubles Bay, Chaguaramas, yesterday. PICTURE ABRAHAM DIAZ

Over 150 illegal ports of entry have been identified in T&T by the T&T Coast Guard (TTCG) and with rising concerns over the increasing illegal entry of arms and ammunition and people, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has vowed to help tighten the borders.

Rowley made the promise as he was given a tour of the TTCG’s Staubles Bay, Chaguaramas headquarters. During the tour, Rowley was told 140 illegal ports of entry have been identified along Trinidad’s coastline and 19 in Tobago.

He was also told that out of the 24 of the TTCG’s Interceptors only five were operational. In addressing that issue, Rowley said Cabinet had already made a decision to spend the money to repair the vessels.

“We had the manufacturer look at most of them and they have reported back to us…We were told that not with an exorbitant price we can get them back into service and we are going to do that rather than go and buy a new stock and let them go the same way,” Rowley said.

“We are going to spend the money to bring them back into the service and in terms of maintenance and/or spare parts, we will be handling those things differently. We are treating with the Coast Guard’s issues to improve their ability to eliminate the penetration of borders by local and foreigners who come here and bring arms ammunition and people with the intention of which to act in an unlawful manner inside T&T.”

Rowley also reiterated that Government will be seeking to purchase two 58.5 metres Cape Class vessels from the Australian shipyard Austal “specially designed for the assignment that we have here.”

“Yesterday, Cabinet, having received a presentation earlier, took a decision yesterday as part of the strengthening of our border patrol exercise, that the Government of T&T will use the financing available through the Australian facility that we would issue an order to the ship-maker Austal,” Rowley said.

“Once we agree on the negotiations of price and terms of delivery and those discussions are on the way, once we are satisfied with the assistance of Australian government, we will set about to obtain the two vessels which will give the Coast Guard the capability which it does not now have.”

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