4 Oct 2007

Fij's military worried by inreasing risk of arms smuggling

11:22 am on 4 October 2007

Fiji's military has expressed concern about the increased risk of dangerous weapons and drugs being smuggled into the country following the withdrawal of its Port Security Unit.

The Fiji Sun reports that the military was forced to withdraw the 180-strong unit made up of territorial force soldiers because of a lack of funds.

The military spokesman, Lt Col Mosese Tikoitoga says the unit was intended to focus on border control and inspect merchandise being brought into Fiji.

But, he says, it was not allocated a budget and there are no funds to pay for its security and inspection services.

Lt Col Tikoitoga says the Customs Authority had done the inspections in the past but they do not have the manpower as one or two officers cannot inspect a thousand containers.

The Fiji Retailers Association has welcomed the removal of the Port Security Unit, saying there are already too many port charges.