By JESSEMIN JOSEPH, www.newsday.co.tt
INSTALLATION of state-of-the-art radar to boost surveillance of this country’s coastlines was among security initiatives announced by Prime Minister Patrick Manning on Wednesday. It was part of Government’s plan to deal with crime. Manning said a link had been found between the escalating crime situation and the drug trade, and as a result Government intended to focus on eradicating this trade. He said Trinidad and Tobago was strategically located between countries supplying the drugs and countries which are the major consumers of illegal narcotics.
"The same factors that make us a good location for investment also make us a good location for transshipment and therefore TT has to take special steps," he said. Noting that there were some things which he could not disclose because they were a matter of National Security, Manning revealed that Government had purchased state-of-the-art radar from Israel, which when completely installed by December, will provide coverage of the critical areas of the country. The radar also has an aerial capability which allows it to see up to a certain height to deal with suspicious aircraft entering local airspace illegally. In addition, he said, Cabinet has decided to purchase vessels to patrol the seas and the air via helicopters with attack capabilities. Apart from this, the Government will purchase helicopters to patrol the waters and deal with high speed crafts used to bring drugs from the South American mainland. Inshore waters will be patrolled by high speed craft.
"We have already begun to take possession of some of the equipment and it is our intention to utilise this cutting edge technology in the fight against drugs," Manning said. "The only problem is the operations on the ground and we are working expeditiously to correct this." Manning called on the Opposition to support passage of the Police Service Reform Bill, which has been before Parliament for the past three and a half years. The Prime Minister denied that he had increased his security entourage because of death threats from members of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen. Responding to questions from reporters, Manning said that he had not received any such threats, and had no need to increase his security. This was also the case with the President and the Chief Justice, he said. When questioned about the heavy security for the Attorney General, he said this was necessary because of the Attorney General held a position of high risk, as did the Minister of National Security.
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