New JDF Coast Guard Base Opens in St. Thomas


A new operational base has been opened in St. Thomas by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard, with emphasis on securing the island’s eastern coastline.
The new base, which was opened on December 7, is located at the old Bowden wharf, a natural deep-water harbour, which was once used as a port for the export of bananas.
In his address at the opening, Minister of National Security, Derrick Smith, said the new base would help in the fight against the illicit guns for drug trade, as well as preserve the integrity of the island’s territorial waters.
He explained that the trafficking of guns and drugs, primarily marijuana (ganja), was a serious problem, one which the government was determined to overcome.
“It’s a problem which we have got to come to grips with.if we do not solve it urgently, it will become a hindrance to us achieving any other objective in relation to reducing crime, and in particular murder,” he said.
Mr. Smith said that to spare the country from the entry of illegal guns and the resultant increase in murders and the continued violence, which is hampering efforts to attract investments, the Government was now forced to spend more money on protecting the island’s coastline.
“The government is not going to be intimidated by a handful of criminals, nor cower from its responsibilities to the populace,” he said, adding that the administration was committed to providing the JDF and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) with the resources to protect Jamaicans.
Mr. Smith pointed out that steps would be taken to stop those bent on perpetrating acts of illegality. “We are not going to re-invent the wheel. Policies that work will be pursued. Any legislation needed will be brought to Parliament in the shortest possible time. However, we will not make knee-jerk decisions and will look at the challenges faced and make the appropriate decisions in terms of policy,” he noted. The Minister said that so far, the government had found some $300 million to equip the island’s security forces to tackle the increasing problem of crime and violence.
The Bowden post is the sixth being manned by the security forces across the island. Others include Discovery Bay, Black River, Pedro Cays, Port Antonio and Port Royal.

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