Bahrain beefs up border security
Manama, September 16, 2012
Bahrain is beefing up its border security with the introduction of two new offshore checkpoints, which are in addition to three existing checkpoints designed to combat illegal activities at sea, including drug smuggling and human trafficking.
The permanent floating security stations will operate round-the-clock, monitoring movement at sea and conducting sea patrols.
"Our plan is to set up two checkpoints at Fasht Al Jarada and the Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Causeway Bridge by this year," revealed Coastguard Directorate operations and planning head First Lieutenant Isa Bumajed.
He said the floating checkpoints - consisting of an operations room, navigators, a rescue team and speedboats - would complement existing security and support Coastguard operations.
Authorities already monitor activity at sea through patrols and using special cameras, which offer multiple images of different locations.
"We protect all corners of Bahrain's territorial waters and over 90 per cent of this area is under our surveillance with the help of high sensitive radar and other state-of-the-art detection devices," revealed First Lt Bumajed.
Bahrain already operates three offshore checkpoints at Fasht Al Jarim, Fasht Khorsht and Al Safriya.
"These floating checkpoints are already active with an officer and his team assigned in each area to conduct sea patrols and maintain security at all times," he added.
They are manned 24 hours a day by a crew working in shifts.
"These checkpoints are equipped with highly sensitive radar with night vision and other detection devices to monitor the area and spot any suspicious activity," explained First Lt Bumajed.
A fourth offshore checkpoint is located at the King Fahad Causeway as part of a separate unit that works in conjunction with Saudi authorities.
"From a security point of view, that unit ensures boats and swimmers get no closer than 500 metres from the bridge," he revealed.
In addition, patrols are stationed near Bahrain's borders to prevent fishermen and other seafarers straying into regional waters.
First Lt Bumajed said there had not been a single case of drug smuggling or human trafficking registered at sea this year.
However, he added the Coastguard Directorate's Maritime Operations Centre in Sitra receives an average of 50 calls per day.
"This could be rescue operations, breakdown of vessels or boats that require assistance and even people complaining about the theft of belongings at resorts or beaches," said First Lt Bumajed.
Last year the Coastguard responded to 689 cases of people in distress and provided assistance to 244 vessels.
It also dealt with 27 maritime accidents, three of which were fatal. – TradeArabia News Service