15 Sep 2003

Tongan official calls for tighter port control

4:02 pm on 15 September 2003

A Tongan border control officer says control of the seaports needs to be tightened against the illegal entry of drugs and people smugglers.

Viliami Lolohea, from the immigration department, says there are loopholes in the way the entry of foreign yachts and ships into Tonga is controlled.

Addressing the 7th Pacific Immigration Directors Conference in Nukualofa, Mr Lolohea says when yachts arrive the captain would present all the passports of his crew and passangers to local authorities.

He says in that way, local authorities would never know the exact number of passengers and crew arriving in Tonga.

Mr Lolohea also says yachts often call in at islands off Tongatapu and spent a couple of days before reporting their arrival to immigration.