Categorized | National News

Gov’t to Borrow $232M for RBDF

Prime Minister Perry Christie is expected to table a resolution in Parliament today that will allow the government to enter into a $232 million loan agreement with Deutsche Bank.

The announcement came during a press conference last evening in the Cabinet office at which time Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage explained that the loan is to help purchase vessels and carry out ancillary works for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF).

The loan from the Germany based bank will be split into two portions; $149 million for the building of eight new vessels, nine inflatable boats and one landing craft, while the remaining $75 million will be used for civil works to ports.

The vessels will be provided by Damen Shipyards, out of the Netherlands, while the upgrades to ports at Coral Harbour, Gun Point, Ragged Island and Matthew Town, Inagua will be done by Van Oord.

“The obligations of RBDF are very demanding and are becoming more challenging as The Bahamas is increasingly being threatened with illicit activities that are inclusive of trafficking in firearms and ammunition, the trafficking of drugs, human smuggling, trafficking in persons and the poaching of our marine resources,” Dr. Nottage said as he expressed the need for the expensive upgrades.

“The increased threats require that we adopt new and improved strategies, particularly given the expansiveness and porosity of our borders. In our Charter for Governance, my government committed to securing our borders as a national security imperative. We pointed out that we must provide the RBDF with the tools, the personnel, the training and the technology they need to succeed. In this regard, during this term in office, my government gave early attention to the acquisition of additional patrol vessels for RBDF.”

The new fleet of vessels will be four Damen Stan Patrol 4207 vessels, 138 feet in length, four Damen Stan Patrol 3007 vessels, 98 feet in length and one Damen Roll-on, Roll-off Landing Craft, 183 feet in length.

According to the minister, the vessels were chosen by RBDF officials because they have proven their worth in navies and coast guards in countries like Barbados, Jamaica, Mexico, the United States of America and Canada.

The first vessel is scheduled to arrive on June 12, and will be named after former governor general Sir Arthur D. Hanna.
Damen’s Area Director for the Americas Sander van Oord said it is good that the government is taking the initiative to protect the country’s delicate marine resources and the welfare of its citizens.

“Damen and Van Oord are honoured to be a part of the government realising these responsibilities,” he said.

“Damen and Van Oord are leaders in their respective markets. The reason we are so successful is because we share the same philosophy with our clients. We care for their reputation by delivering a quality product on time and on budget. This cooperation does not end when we hand over the last vessel or complete the final piece of construction. Being family businesses, we will remain committed over the long term.”

According to the minister of national security there are currently 1,218 RBDF officers and 85 recruits in training.

Dr. Nottage projected that the RBDF will see the addition of 800 new officers over the next five years.

Prime Minister Christie said he sees this signing it as another level of commitment the government is making in protecting the nation’s borders.

“The pressing priorities of the country happen to concern coverage of 100,000 square miles of water that make up the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” he said.

“We have illegal human migration as a major challenge to our country, the consequence of which is enourmous, in terms of the implications to the future well-being of our country. Therefore there must be no compromise on the capacity of the government of The Bahamas to put itself in a position, notwithstanding help from its allies, in being able to help us cover those waters. We ourselves must make the decision and we’ve done so.”

Mr. Christie said whether Bahamians like it or not, the country has been questioned and positioned in a negative light but have responded positively.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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