It is not breaking news that the Virgin Islands is surrounded by water and so there are only two ways to enter the territory: by air or sea. From childhood, I have grown up around and on the sea, and I probably learned to sail a boat before I learned to drive a car.
So when I heard the other day that we have “porous borders,” I decided to pull out my map to see what was going on. At first glance, you see that we are more water than land mass. That being the case, our border management strategy obviously must be multifaceted. At one point in the last 20 years, I think we taxpayers had almost 10 marine vessels and a plane across various government agencies: police, the BVI Ports Authority, the Customs Department, the National Parks Trust, and the then-Conservation and Fisheries Department. Now suddenly, the “border has fallen apart” and boats of any size are able to pass in and out undetected?
‘Pirates and buccaneers’
Let’s put this in context. When pirates and buccaneers roamed these waters, what did the “government” do? It built forts on strategic lookout points to monitor the seaways. And now we are being told that here in the 21st Century, with all the advances in technology and resources, we are incapable of doing a better job to address drug and human trafficking? Really? Surveillance is not a modern invention.
Having worked in the public service for a stint exposed me to the budget management process, and I learned early there was always a battle between political will versus priority. We also had a terrible habit of not budgeting for maintenance of the assets purchased, and equipment would be in disrepair for months — or, in the case of the plane, obsolete.
As a side note, it also dawned on me the other day that the sailing capital of the world does not have a government marine ambulance or a fireboat. But that’s a topic for another day.
I humbly ask for our National Security Council to report to we the people on what is the plan to “tighten” up this ship!