St Lucia’s Police Marine Unit get 2 New Piers via USA’s SOUTHCOM for Vieux Fort & Castries: by Trevor Constantine
Thewill soon increase its effectiveness in the daily narcotics operation, following the construction of new piers at Castries and Vieux-Fort and a new breakwater which will be funded by the United States Government through the United States Southern Command.
There were several U.S. officials in attendance including the Minister for Home Affairs and National Security, Senator Guy Mayers, the Commissioner of Police, Ausbert Regis, the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Home Affairs Ministry, Fortuna Belrose, Gazetted officers and other invited guests.
During his brief remarks, the Home Affairs Minister made it abundantly clear that many of the drug dealers tend to use St.Lucia as a trans-shipment point and therefore emphasized the need to suitably equip the police force which he said is the only security force in the country. He had soaring praise for the United States for taking the initiative to make available the facilities needed to effectively deal with the transaction of drugs in our waters. He also noted the lack of resources that the Marine Unit faces and stated that the Government has a plan in place to address the problem.
The Commissioner of police also embraced the undertaking and explained that the Marine Unit is the first level of defense against illegal operations in our waters and is the gatekeeper for the prevention of illegal drugs and weapons at sea. He further stressed that the capability of the unit must be augmented if that level of defense has to be improved. He used the construction of the piers and breakwater as typical examples of such an enhancement.
An observably appreciative Commissioner, extended appreciation to the U.S. Government and Major Edward Harvey, Deputy Chief United States Embassy Bridgetown’s Military Liaison Officer, for making this undertaking a reality.
The pier in Castries was reported to be out of use due to severe damage and the one in Vieux-Fort, while still in limited use, was also badly damaged as a result of marine borer attacks.
It was also reported that the piers currently pose a significant hazard to both vessels and members of the Marine Unit, hence the need for the reconstruction which is vital to the success of the marine maritime units in the war against the illicit narcotics and gun-running operations at sea.
The contract for the project has been awarded to Construction and Industrial Equipment Ltd, a St.Lucian company and the work is scheduled to be completed by October, 2010. The construction of the piers and breakwater will be at a cost of US$1,331,573.