The Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) last Friday received 6 patrol boats or dinghies, 2 Toyota Land Cruiser Hardtop motor vehicles, 32 desktop computers, 32 Laser jet printers and 100 camp beds valued at US$371,336.22, shared equally between the two agencies.
The items were purchased through a project supported by the government of Japan and were delivered by the United Nations Development Program on behalf of the Japanese government, according to a press release yesterday.
In total, the US$3.6m project, which has just ended, has enhanced the operational and logistical capacities of the LIS and LNP with 18 vehicles, 160 motorbikes, 2,000 rain gears, 16 tents, 260 camp beds, 200 hand-held communication radios and 80 base radios. Other items donated are 168 megaphones for community sensitization, 100 flashlights, 200 hand-held thermometers, 15 solar panels with technical rooms that are yet to be installed at selected border posts and police stations in the counties, and 8 Public Address (PA) systems under the authority of the County Superintendent to be used for public engagement and sensitization. The contributions include sanitation kit supplies for about 400 female officers and household heads.
The project which has been implemented since March 2015 as part of the post-Ebola recovery, sought to strengthen the institutional capacities of the LNP and LIS, with a specific focus on border security through enhanced surveillance systems, screening of border crossings and patrol of border points.
It can be recalled that uncontrolled border crossings resulted in the transmission of Ebola.
Friday’s event took place at the Liberia Maritime Authority Training Academy in Marshall, Margibi County and was attended by the Inspector-General of the LNP, Mr. Gregory O.W Coleman and the Commissioner-General of the LIS, Cllr. Lemuel Reeves, who received the donations on behalf of their institutions.
Handing them over was a representative of the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Steve Jackson, who in turn received the donations from UNDP through its Deputy Country Director for Program, Mr. Cleophas Torori.
The six (6) state-of-the-art patrol boats also called “dinghies,” among the donations, are relatively small naval vessels generally designed for coastal defense duties, which will be used for border patrol and protection roles, including anti-smuggling, anti-piracy, fisheries patrols, and immigration law enforcement, as well as rescue operations.
This will be the first time that LIS has received watercraft for marine and river patrols, besides other logistics provided to boost its capacity, thanks to the UNDP project. LIS is organizing training for selected officers at the Maritime Training Academy to form its Marine Unit.
Receiving the equipment and items on behalf of their respective institutions, both the IGP and the Commissioner-General LIS pledged to use them for the purpose intended and expressed appreciation to UNDP and the government and people of Japan for the donation that has greatly helped to strengthen the capacities of their institutions.
The representatives of UNDP and the Ministry of Justice also underscored the need for the donations to be put to the intended use along the borders, in order to enhance border surveillance and security, and thus curb transmission of communicable diseases and illicit trade, including drugs and small arms.
In addition to the heavy logistical support, the Community Engagement and Training component of the project employed focus-group discussions and community sensitization and awareness campaigns in eight counties to strengthen coordination and collaboration among the security agencies on one hand, and between the security agencies and the communities on the hand.
Participants were drawn from LIS Border Patrol Units, LNP officers, Community Watch Forum, County and District Security Council members, County Health Teams, UNMIL, and representatives of other UN agencies, County Superintendents, County Attorneys, Community/Traditional leaders, representatives of Youth and Women’s groups, among others.