Customs to Fight Cross-Border Crime

The Directorate of Customs and Excise in its efforts to curb the increase in cross-border crime has procured two patrol boats at Katima Mulilo.

The deployment of the two speed boats was necessitated by the increasing number of cases involving the smuggling of narcotics and dutiable goods by hordes of both foreign and Namibian nationals.

In addition to the procurement the directorate also conducted a week-long training of customs officials as skippers of the boats worth N$1.5 million.

The boats were procured by the Ministry of Finance.

The training of the skippers which began last week and ended on Monday was offered by the Namibian Maritime and Fisheries Institute and included basic skills in navigation, first aid, firefighting, meteorology and docking.

The trainees from customs and excise in Kavango East, Kavango West and the Zambezi regions would be conferred with certificates as qualified skippers.

Speaking at the end of the training, Willbroad Poniso, the Deputy Director for the North-Eastern Region in the Ministry of Finance stated the two boats would be used to patrol the rivers of the three regions.

“The boats will be used to patrol the Zambezi, Chobe and Kavango rivers. Before deployment of the boats, staff members of customs had to receive requisite competencies and skills to effectively and efficiently operate them, consistent with institutional and organisational strategic objectives,” stated Poniso.

Poniso further noted that the Ministry of Finance engaged the Namibian Maritime and Fisheries Institute given its reputable standing in maritime training.

“Officials will be issued with credible qualifications from the Namibian Maritime and Fisheries Institute. The qualifications in the form of certificates will enable them to operate these patrol boats effectively and efficiently in their line of duty,” he said.

He noted the training is essential given the three regions’ proximity to other SADC countries, which makes Namibia susceptible to cross-border crimes.

“We would want to commence active patrols and enforcement operations right away along the borders with Zambia, Botswana and Angola. And we also want to complement other law enforcement agencies in combating cross-border crimes taking place such as involving narcotics and the smuggling of dutiable, prohibited and restricted goods,” stressed Poniso.

Although cross-border crimes abound in the three regions, the Zambezi Region has particularly faced huge challenges in containing illegal foreign fishermen who flock to Namibia to plunder the fishery resources before illicitly exporting them to their country of origin.

The foreign fishermen often times camp on secluded islands that are inaccessible by road.

On almost a yearly basis law enforcement agencies team up to stop the plunder but such efforts are often derailed by the lack of boat patrols.

Source : New Era