Three marine bases to beef up border security

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

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GOVERNMENT is in the process of acquiring lands at key points across the island for the construction of three marine bases at a cost of $80 million.

The project is part of efforts by the Administration to protect Jamaica's borders by curtailing illicit activities.

To be located at Rocky Point in Clarendon; James Bond Beach, St Mary; and Alligator Pond in St Elizabeth, the bases will be jointly established and operated by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA).

Speaking in an interview with JIS News, acting director for protective security in the Ministry of National Security, Paul Henry, said the areas for the bases were chosen based on intelligence.

“Intelligence and information would indicate that these specific geographical areas would be areas of concern, as it relates to interdicting shipments of contraband, whether they are regular contraband or high-security contraband. So it's really based on police analysis of Jamaica's coasts,” he says.

Henry tells JIS News that the bases will be built in keeping with engineering specifications and National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) standards to ensure their longevity.

“We are advanced in acquiring and leasing the lands as it relates to Oracabessa. The lease was drafted and it is now being reviewed… and will be eventually returned to the National Land Agency and the landowners for final signature,” he says.

As it relates to Alligator Pond, he indicates that a location has been identified and negotiations are being done with the owner.

Crown lands will be leased for the Rocky Point site. “We are… completing some considerations that were put to us by NEPA in order to finalise that lease for that purpose,” Henry tells JIS News.

The marine bases will be used to deter, prevent, detect and/or prosecute breaches of the Customs and other laws of Jamaica.

Activities will include planning and execution of joint contraband-interdiction operations; search of vessels; interception of suspicious vessels, persons and/or goods; coastal surveillance and intelligence gathering; and execution of and/or the provision of support for the regulatory functions of other agencies of the Government.

Henry tells JIS News that the JCF and the JCA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in December 2016 to undertake the project.

“The MOU… is really seeking to target their roles as law-enforcement bodies on our borders,” Henry says.

Under the agreement, JCA will be responsible for constructing and otherwise establishing the physical infrastructure required to support the marine bases.

This includes modular facilities for the operation of the bases and installation of sewage disposal, water supply, electricity, and any other utilities required.

The JCA will also provide two 30-foot Boston Whaler watercraft and twin-cab pickup motor vehicles to be deployed at Rocky Point and Alligator Pond (Little Ochi).

The JCF will provide three marine craft, along with a coxswain (person who steers the boat) and crew to be deployed to all bases for 24-hours, seven days per week.

Henry says that marine bases will better enable the security forces to launch operations, detect and interdict people who are involved in criminal activities, particularly in the drugs trade.

He adds that the marine bases will also improve the JCA's vigilance as “it will reduce the potential of persons trying to bring in commodities without duties being charged, as they have that concern”.

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