MINISTER OF National Security Dr. Peter Phillips on Wednesday outlined Government's commitment to acquire more than $200 million in equipment to improve the mobility of the Police Force.
"An order of some 70 vehicles is being placed as I speak, at a cost of $40 million," Dr. Phillips told the House of Representatives while making his contribution to the 2004/2005 Sectoral Debate.
He added: "We will also be placing orders over the course of the next two months for another $50 million worth of motor vehicles, especially directed for use in the rural areas and rugged terrain.
"In addition, we intend to spend another $65 million to acquire 100 motorcycles for more effective urban patrols and another $60 million to purchase six marine craft for the marine police to better secure our coastline."
According to Donovan Nelson, communications adviser in the Security Ministry, the first 70 vehicles have now been purchased with funds provided through the Ministry of Finance and Planning.
However, he said the Security Ministry would not yet disclose the source of the additional funding identified for the purchase of the other equipment.
NOT IN BUDGET
That equipment, costing about $175 million, is not accounted for in the Security Ministry's budgetary allocation of about $15 billion.
Dr. Phillips noted on Wednesday that a serious shortage of functioning motor vehicles was handicapping the mobility of lawmen at police stations islandwide. Last year, it was reported that 165 units were parked at the Police Transport and Repairs Division, with more than 60 per cent in need of major repairs. Those repairs included bodywork and new engines.
At that time, The Gleaner was informed that $40 million was to have been used to purchase about 45 new vehicles from Japan, through a prominent local car dealer.
But yesterday, Gilbert Scott, Permanent Secretary in the Security Ministry, indicated that that deal had fallen through. "At the time we were going to purchase new vehicles. Now we are purchasing vehicles no more than two years old," he said.