Minister for Defence, National Security and Foreign Affairs, Inia Seruiratu says a good and well-constructed infrastructure is the backbone of a healthy economy.
Seruiratu made this comment while officiating at the ground breaking ceremony for the extension of the wharf at the Stanley Brown Naval Base in Suva adding having one of the best docking infrastructures in place enables trade, creates opportunities for a nation such as Fiji and securitize the nation from maritime threats.
This extension, funded by the Australian Government, is to accommodate the two new patrol boats that will be given to Fiji by Australia. The first will be given in 2020 and the second in 2023.
The Minister highlighted the Pacific Maritime Security Program is a testament to Australia’s commitment in assisting the 12 Pacific Island nations with 19 steel-hulled patrol boats valued at 280 million Australian dollars and a sustainment support facility for an initial seven years period, valued at 24 million Australian dollars .
Seruiratu adds Fiji’s porous borders and strategic maritime zone have indicated the need for our Fiji Navy to be equipped with the best platform, technologies, infrastructures and personnel in order to protect our sovereign national territorial integrity and security to enhance practical maritime domain awareness within our Exclusive Economic Zone.
He says this effort can only be optimized through collaboration between our border security agencies and with the support offered by Australia, Fiji’s security partner of choice in the region.
Seruiratu says the upgrading of the wharf is not only critical towards building capabilities in securing Fiji’s borders but also support the Pacific Maritime Security Program under the ‘Vuvale partnership’.
He added these benefits will assist in contributing to the maintenance of Fiji’s collective regional security, achieve defence self-reliance and in contextualising it to Fiji’s situation, assist Fiji in maritime security, fisheries surveillance and more.
He says under this program, a few projects are in the pipeline for a comprehensive border security assistance to help strengthen the integrity of Fiji’s borders such as two replacement Guardian-class patrol boats, integrated aerial surveillance, and upgrade of infrastructure.
Seruiratu says he understands the last upgrade of that wharf was about twenty years ago and reiterated that this initiative is a timely one as the new and improved wharf will support the replacement Guardian-class patrol boat that will berth our shore early next year.
Deputy Secretary for Defence and National Security Ilai Moceica has also revealed Australia will provide follow on support till 2050 and also provide a Maritime Adviser who will be with the Fiji Navy.
Stay tuned for the latest news on our radio stations