Editorial comment: On the drug trail

Crew members from Royal New Zealand Navy inshore patrol vessel HMNZS Taupo and personnel from Fiji Revenue and Customs Service wade towards the remote island where over 12 kgs of cocaine were found last week. Picture: SUPPLIED/NZDF

THE fact that 40 packages of cocaine bars with an estimated street value of $F31 million have been discovered on islands in the Lau Group so far is a great concern.
It is shocking that we have so much of this hard drug on our shores.
In fact it raises many questions that will no doubt be raising the profile of our border security and surveillance over the many islands that make up our nation.
Now the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) is 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.
FRCS chief executive officer Visvanath Das said Customs officers had vast powers under the Customs Act and other Fiji laws in relation to the country’s borders.
Fijians, he said, should be aware of this and not hesitate to call Customs if they knew of suspicious discoveries and activities out at sea or on land.
The people of Lau, he said, played a vital role in informing Revenue and Customs when such packages were discovered.
He praised the efforts of the islanders and the turaganikoro.
He said Fijians in our outer islands should be vigilant.
Mr Das said FRCS was also reaching out to other islands that were part of its coastal watch program for assistance. “Together with stakeholders, we are going to great lengths to protect our borders. It is also your responsibility as a citizen of this country to help Fiji grow and report any illegal/criminal activities at our borders,” he said.
The move to embrace community support is actually quite good and 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 serious business that needs our support.
The shocking discoveries should drive the need for us to be vigilant and proactive.
Perhaps we should embrace the opinion that we could probably be a launch pad on the drug route that is targeting our closest neighbours New Zealand and Australia.
Sceptics will be hoping that the discoveries are one-off scenarios.
The reality may not be good though. It is difficult to comprehend whether that may be so, especially when one considers the street value attached to the recent discoveries.
We have a massive challenge on our hands.
Those tasked to look after our borders have a duty to do so. With restrictions though, they will need our assistance. That calls for a united front in the battle against hard drugs and those who dare to bring them to our nation.

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