JIS News

The government is stepping up its fight against the illegal trade in drugs and guns and is looking to establish a marine security outpost on the north coast, which will provide for increased patrol of the area between Discovery Bay and Port Antonio.
Minister of National Security, Derrick Smith, speaking to JIS News following Friday’s (Dec. 7) official opening of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard base at the old Bowden Wharf in St. Thomas, said it is imperative that efforts be strengthened to stop or drastically reduce the drug for gun trade, as well as to preserve the integrity of the island’s territorial waters.
He noted that while the establishment of the Bowden Coast Guard base will provide for patrolling of the eastern coastline, the “next step is to bring on an additional vessel and to concentrate on the northern coast. We have something at Port Antonio in the northeast and we have something at Discovery Bay, but there is that stretch between Port Antonio, Ocho Rios and Discovery Bay that we will now have to look at,” he told JIS News.
He noted that “it is not an easy task to patrol the coastline because on a good day, there are easily well over 100 vessels at sea, especially in areas used for fishing, and determining which boat is involved in illegal activities is no easy task, so presenting a security presence will be the best deterrent”.
The Bowden Wharf, a natural deep water harbour once used as a port for the export of bananas, is the Coast Guard’s sixth security base for the patrol of the country’s territorial waters. The others are at Discovery Bay, Black River, Pedro Cays, Port Antonio and Port Royal.
Turning to the crime problem, the Minister said that while there are calls for “all kinds of draconian measures to be introduced, we will not react out of panic.”
“The government is not going to be intimidated by a handful of criminals nor cower from its responsibilities to the populace and we are committed to providing the JDF and the Jamaica Constabulary Force with the resources to protect Jamaicans,” he stated, noting that some $300 million has been provided to equip the security forces in this effort.