Editorial comment – Fighting the drug trade

36 bars of cocaine which were allegedly found on an island of Makogai. Picture: SUPPLIED/Fiji Police

THE discovery of 36 packs of cocaine on the island of Makogai on Lomaiviti three weeks ago, should not come as a shock anymore.

The revelation by Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho, who said, the Fiji Police Force would soon be providing a boat to the Eastern Division to conduct raids and monitor remote and uninhabited islands around Fiji is a great concern.

Police officers, he said, were going around the islands and they were requesting for people to get in touch with the police should they find any illicit drugs.

Divisional Police Commander Eastern Superintendent of Police Kasiano Vusonilawe, who led the team in the raid, said they were not sure how many islands in the Lomaiviti Group had illicit drugs such as the one found on Makogai.

In this instance, it seems police received a tip-off from members of the public about the discovery of cocaine.

It is encouraging that the police are focused on covering all the small islands within Lomaiviti.

At first, it was shocking that we have so much of this hard drug on our shores. With the discovery of so many more packs of cocaine in Fiji, it should now be a serious concern for every Fijian.

Questions will no doubt be raised about the effectiveness of our border security and surveillance and whether we are able to police this effectively.

Are we able to fight the influx of hard drugs into our nation? Do we have the capability to police this effectively and prevent our nation from becoming a strong pathway for such hard drugs to get to bigger countries?

The Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) and police are hoping Fijians in the outer islands will report suspicious activities out at sea or land to them.

It is obviously the way to go considering our handicap in as far as consistent patrols around our Exclusive Economic Zone is concerned.

The move to embrace community support must be encouraged. It is about empowering people and nurturing a sense of ownership that, hopefully, will go a long way towards aiding our security arm to curb the drug trade. This is very serious business that needs our support.

We must be vigilant and proactive.

Slowly, it seems, we are definitely turning out to be the launch pad on the drug route that is targeting our closest neighbours New Zealand and Australia.

There is quite a lot of money attached to these hard drugs. It is a lucrative proposition for some people who are prepared to beat the law. We have a massive challenge on our hands.

Those tasked to look after our borders have a duty to do so. We must have a united front in the battle against hard drugs and those who dare to bring them to our nation. We cannot afford to pussy-foot around this issue.

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