United National Congress »Deputy Charles: Border security by Vaps
MP Charles took note of statements on TV6 this week where Minister Hinds may have inadvertently blurted out the real reasons for our dire border situation and various security concerns – this administration’s reluctance to verify information and its inexplicable underfunding of our TTCG.
The first instinct of this PNM administration, when faced with uncomfortable information, is to assert that it is false and apologize instead of conducting a thorough investigation to verify or refute the information presented and then develop a reasonable response.
Without investigating the evidence in the video, Minister Hinds sought to deflect and justify the events highlighted by Senator Lyder where Venezuelan fishing boats were seen entering our country unhindered during hours of cover-up. Monday “total lockout” fire. Hinds said this was not new or unusual and was a common occurrence. However, as Minister of National Security, he did not confirm whether these boats actually entered our borders that day. And if they were subject to normal immigration procedures.
How then can he say it was part of normal operations? has it been verified? Where are the immigration or customs documents or our coast guard documents to confirm the date and time of arrival of the Venezuelan ships seen in the video?
Is our border security policy data driven?
Can this explain why tens of thousands of illegal immigrants enter our shores undetected? Could it be that our radar detects a canoe entering our waters and ignores it, thinking it is a fishing vessel in routine activity? No verification of the assumptions made?
The same goes for the cargo of corpses found adrift off the coast of Tobago. How did he escape 360 degree radar detection? Was it detected and assumed to be a TT fishing vessel? Did this come through a blind spot in our radar detection capabilities?
Or has the lack of resources of our coast guards forced them to make sometimes difficult decisions to ignore the presence of countless ships that pose real or potential threats?
Minister Hinds further sought to insult our intelligence by claiming that the two new Cape Class Coast Guard vessels would be the panacea for our porous border crisis. It doesn’t matter that they are months away from our shores. We are now told that crew training will begin after they arrive. Ignore the fact that these boats require optimal, timely and expensive maintenance for which the TTCG has no known record of excellence.
Minister Hinds must tell us without laughing if our borders are locked as we speak, and more so during the two months we are waiting for the 2 Cape class ships.
He has to tell us if the 360 degree radar is fully functional.
It needs to show how many of the 12 Damen Rapid Patrol and Interceptor ships we left in 2015 are patrolling 24/7.
It must say whether the funds that were allocated during the mid-year budget review are sufficient for the optimal operationalization of our naval resources.
He must inform the population if the Marine Police branch is fully functional to cover the more than 200 illegal entry points.
What we need is not public relations, or fancy language, or apologies, or politics built on flimsy assumptions and seemingly on the fly. What we need is a data-driven approach to managing our porous borders and a Minister who is ready to align with the people and implement data-driven decisions. necessary to protect our borders.