Categorized | National News

DNA Pleased With Govt Move To Assist RBDF—But McCartney wonders whether money will be used effectively

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is pleased that this PLP administration has finally turned its attention after being in office for two years to addressing the needs of the country’s marines, but still leader Branville McCartney questions whether the money is being effectively utilised.

The government tabled a resolution in the House of Assembly two weeks ago to borrow $232 million for the purchase of nine new Royal Bahamas Defence Force(RBDF) vessels.

The loan from Deutsche Bank will provide $149 million to build each of the ships, and an extra $75 million to cover civil works for a total of $224 million.

The remaining $8 million will accommodate any changes that may arise during the scope of the project.

“The Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the organisation responsible for protecting our country’s borders has, for some time, been grossly under-manned and in need of much needed upgrades to both equipment and facilities,” Mr. McCartney said.

“Despite its best efforts however, the Christie government continues to be its own worst enemy, failing again to make decisions that could facilitate real change in that regard. On the surface, the idea to purchase more boats may seem like a good one; however there are some questions which need to be considered. Is adding to the country’s already substantial financial burden in the best interest of the country at this time? Particularly if the monies borrowed are being funneled into vessels which over time will deteriorate in value?”

Mr. McCartney also asked whether the money would be better spent by investing in technologies which will have significant and longer term benefits for the country.

“Successive administrations have sadly ignored the major advancements in border patrol technologies currently being employed by first world nations in favor of the same vessel intensive tactical methods The Bahamas has used for the past 40 years,” he said.

“While the Democratic National Alliance is not fully discounting the effectiveness of active vessel patrol vessels, it must be noted that as with all other sectors of today’s modern world, the use of technology can and must become an integral part of the plans of any responsible government in addressing the needs of its residents. For more than 40 years, illegal immigrants, human and drug smugglers and poachers have managed to evade any number of Defence Force Vessels patrolling our expansive marine borders.”

The DNA leader said the time has come for the government to immediately rethink its strategy in favor of a more progressive and technology driven approach.

“Doing so would yield long term benefits for our archipelagic nation,” Mr. McCartney said.
The government is purchasing four Damen Stan Patrol 4201 vessels – 138 feet long with an eight feet draft; four Damen Stan Patrol 3007 vessels – 98 feet wide with a 6.5 feet draft; and nine Rigid Inflatable Boats.
One Damen Roll-on Roll-off Landing Craft, to be named HMBS Arthur Dion Hanna, in honour of the former Governor General, is also to be constructed.

This vessel will be fitted with a 25-ton crane and demountable disaster relief equipment. It is expected to make its maiden voyage in Bahamian waters on June 13, 2014.

Last year, the government announced the signing of a letter of intent with Damen Shipyards to acquire the vessels.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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