Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Mr. Georid Belle praised the assistance of the Coast Guard Division of the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force and Ministry of Finance for their efforts, while making remarks at a recent ceremony to launch the vessel.
Mr. Belle outlined that the acquisition of the vessel will greatly enhance the capabilities of the department which is currently limited to “land assets”. This expanded capability will help to identify threats and interdict in cases on the waters, where needed, said Belle.
The marine asset Guardian I, a sixteen foot Zodiac Rigid Hull Inflatable vessel, was commissioned to enhance the border security capabilities of the Customs Department.
The Customs and Excise Department hosted the ceremony which also marked the opening of an expanded Terminal Operations Office, on Wednesday 13th July, 2011, at the Deepwater Port Compound, Bird Rock.
The keynote address was delivered by Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas who praised the ongoing efforts of the Customs Department to rise to the challenge of meeting its roles of trade facilitation and border security.
PM Douglas outlined the need for continued innovation, vigilance and cooperation by government departments to meet national objectives.
Meanwhile, Comptroller of Customs Mr. Rodney Harris outlined the need for greater efficiencies in processing commercial cargo as the primary factor that directed the department to merge this new and improved function with boarding facilities.
The opening of this office will create one single unit in the Customs Department that will examine and process containerized cargo and monitor and facilitate the private warehouse (bond) activities of local merchants. The new unit is to be headed by Mrs. Dianne Henderson-Phipps, Customs Officer (Grade IV).
Both Harris and Belle stressed that the acquisition of the marine asset would help the department to better work in conjunction with our border security partners rather than in competition.
The ceremony concluded with the traditional cutting of the ribbon to the Customs Terminal Operations Office and the splashing of sparkling wine on the vessel, both were done by Prime Minister Douglas.