BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – The United States government has constructed and turned over the Liberian Coast Guard Buchanan Station Boathouse and Ramp to the Armed Forces of Liberia.
The dedicatory ceremony was held at the Port of Buchanan on Wednesday in the presence of scores of government officials and President George Weah, who cut the ribbon.
Speaking at the ceremony, U.S. Ambassador Christine Elder said the Liberian government had approached the American government in 2010 to help re-establish the Liberian Coast Guard as a specialized maritime law enforcement unit within the Armed Forces of Liberia.
“We are proud to celebrate with you today, Liberia’s substantially improved capacity to protect the vital cost, ports, and citizens of this nation,” Elder added.
She said her government had supported the Liberian Coast Guard by training and equipping its personnel and by building new infrastructure at the Freeport of Monrovia and Buchanan.
Elder noted that the cost of the construction of the boathouse and ramp is approximately US$1.7 million. She also disclosed that the permanent fixed pier being constructed at the Freeport is nearing completion and it also represents an additional grant of over US$1 million.
“The U.S. government has provided a grant – not a loan – a gift, to the people of Liberia to fund the base refurbishment and station construction at the Freeport in Monrovia, and procured all the necessary vessels and equipment, including the 6 patrol crafts, 16 zodiac boats, 4 Ford trucks, spare boat engines, and parts for the Liberian Coast Guard,” she said.
“We have also assisted in the recruiting and vetting of over 100 personnel, providing specialized maritime security and law enforcement training in the United States, other countries and Liberia.”
She noted that the U.S. government’s efforts were fully aligned with Liberia’s national security strategy.
Elder said the establishment of the Coast Guard station in Buchanan will advance the goal of the U.S. government to assist Liberia in its efforts to enhance regional and maritime security that can combat transnational crime and improve food security by deterring illegal fishing.
She also noted that with the increased capability and capacity, the Coast Guard can better respond to foreign poaching, conduct search and rescue missions, and lead in disaster response.
Elder noted that Liberia needs to expand beyond the current Coast Guard bases in the Freeport of Monrovia and Buchanan and include the ports of Greenville and Harper.
“However, growing a strong Liberian Coast Guard will require a sustained commitment from the Liberian government to maintain the progress achieved and will require trained, experienced, and dedicated crew and leaders with [the] appropriate logistic support system,” Elder cautioned.
“The United States knows that President Weah takes no responsibility more seriously than ensuring the safety of his citizens, the security of Liberia’s key economic and infrastructure installations, and the protection of Liberia’s borders. So, we will continue to support you in this effort, and remain committed to the security and prosperity of Liberia.”
Defense Minister Daniel Ziankahn thanked the U.S. government for the facility and noted that the Liberian government remained grateful for the numerous contributions.
He said with the construction of the boathouse, the Coast Guard can now enhance its operations in protecting the water borders of Liberia.
“For now, we can go to Monrovia to Buchanan then we can increase our tactical and operational footprint from here to the Port of Greenville. We look forward to working together to develop the Port of Greenville and the Port of Harper,” he added.
Speaking at the dedicatory ceremony, the acting commander of the Liberian Coast Guard, Lieutenant John Wille said the American government has developed the Liberian Coast Guard tremendously through the provision of infrastructure, equipment, and capacity building.
He said training obtained and facilities provided by the U.S. government will help them perform their duties effectively.
Grand Bassa’s superintendent, Janjay Baikpeh, also thanked the U.S.
“We are very grateful to the United States government for the tremendous efforts given to Liberia,” he said. “You know as America being our traditional father, you gave birth to this country.”
Featured photo by Sampson David