CoP Gary Griffith

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Even though migrants are continuing to come in through Moruga and along the Eastern Coasts, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith says it is possible that the TTPS Marine Branch may not have the capacity to patrol the coastal range of the Atlantic Ocean because of the rough waters.

The Branch is expected to be launched this month.

The issue of the migrants was raised by Princes Town MP Barry Padarath who said many were continuing to infiltrate Moruga, Tableland and Princes Town regions.

Most of the migrants enter through the Moruga Beach and then make their way into the populated areas, searching for employment opportunities, Padarath said.

He questioned whether the TTPS Marine Branch was up and running and whether it will supplement the activities of the Coast Guard.

Responding to Padarath, Griffith explained that the Branch will not replace the Coast Guard.

The Marine Branch was supposed to come on stream by the end of January but Griffith said it will instead be launched later this month.

He noted that a three-tier approach had been established for the protection of T&T’s coasts.

“The first tier is from the shoreline to two miles out and that will comprise of smaller vessels, pirogues, and interceptors that will do proper patrolling and interception of anything that may enter our shores illegally,” Griffith said.

He explained that the second tier will be two miles to 10 miles out where there are medium-sized vessels, while the third tier will be to secure T&T’s exclusive economic zone.

Saying the TTPS Marine Branch will only assist in the two-mile shoreline patrols, Griffith said planned to have the Branch launched this month.

“We will have interceptors and the types of vessels to work in tandem with the radar centre and the Coast Guard so that if anything decides to enter our water illegally, through the Police Marine Branch, we will be able to intercept,” he explained.

However, Griffith said further analysis has to be done on the Eastern Coasts to determine whether the interceptors and the pirogues could patrol there.

“The concern I have here is that this type of vessel we are using to patrol a mile from the shorelines to two miles out, we are looking where the type of water on the eastern coats and southeastern coasts are much rougher. It is definitely rougher than what you will get in the Gulf of Paria and the Southwestern peninsula,” Griffith said.

He explained that the TTPS Marine Branch will patrol Chaguaramas, the Gulf- of- Paria and the South Western peninsula.

“We will be expanding the Marine Branch but in the first instance which is going to be launched this month, we will have the vessels patrol on the South Western peninsula and the Chaguaramas area. Then we will move forward to Tobago,” he said.

He added, “I have to look at the type of water that we have in the southeast to see if the interceptors can patrol those areas. Sometimes it can be very difficult for you to be in an interceptor or a smaller vessel to patrol waters that are much rougher than what you have in the Gulf of Paria and the southwest,” he pointed out.

Over the past few months, Venezuelans migrants have continued to enter T&T through Moruga. In November last year, a video circulated with Venezuelans running from police. They had been hiding in a shack in the bushes. In late January, two Venezuelans were found with a gun and ammunition in Moruga. None of the migrants was registered.