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15.04.2010 General News

The Marine Police Unit,; should it be Navy or Police?

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In yesterday's edition of The Chronicle, we carried a story which reported that the Police Administration was to train personnel to establish a Marine Police Unit (MPU) to provide security and protection for Ghana's new oil and gas industry.

In addition to the normal duties that the Police Service plays, the MPU is supposed to deal with crimes on the high seas, like ship diversion, bunkering, piracy and hostage-taking among others.

Much as Ghana must begin to position and re-align herself in the face of the massive oil and gas industry that is set to take off soon, we must also not be seen to take rush decisions that we might regret later.

The Chronicle will humbly like to disagree with the idea of using the police to establish the MPU, when the Police Service itself is already overstretched on land.

The same Police Service has been crying over inadequate numbers and the lack of working logistics, so why do we therefore have to saddle them again with extra policing duties on the high seas?

The Police Service is already overwhelmed in its provision of security and protection for the citizenry, and therefore any injection of funds or new training for personnel must rather be channeled to the traditional policing duties on land.

The Chronicle believes that the best people to undertake the policing of the high seas, in relation to the oil and gas industry, must be the Ghana Navy.

Despite the fact that the Navy, as an institution, already has the pre-requisite training and monitoring boats to do the work of the so-called Marine Police Unit. For an under-developed country like Ghana, with huge economic challenges, and improvement of the living standards of the people as a major priority, we must endeavour not to create new institutions that only end up duplicating the functions of existing ones.

The oil and gas industry is expected to create businesses, complex financial transactions, and witness the influx of expatriates, with the resultant potential for land litigation, fraud, and economic sabotage.

Other crimes on the high seas like ship diversion, bunkering, piracy and hostage-taking, which are also associated with the oil and gas industry, must be anticipated.

It is obvious that the police can still concentrate on the financial and land litigation matters, with the Navy also playing their traditional duties of policing the high seas, leaving the police free to handle and prosecute any arrests made in the course of their duties.

The oil and gas industry is a mega rich and complex business that must be handled with all the seriousness that it deserves.

At this very embryonic stage, we must strive to do the right things, by not putting square pegs in round holes.

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