Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare today joined the Special Coordinator of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), Mr Quinton Devlin and the Commissioner of Police, Mr Frank Prendergast to commission the new state-of-the-art National Response Department building of the Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIP).
The National Response Department building contains an armoury, an armourers’ work space, office accommodation for the Police Response Team, Close Personal Protection team and Explosive Ordinance team, storage facilities, male and female barrack accommodation and an firearm unloading bay.
In his address at the ceremony, the Prime Minister lauded the occasion as being symbolic of the continuing growth and development of the RSIP and the growing trust and confidence by the people of Solomon Islands in the Government and RSIP.
He said new facility is the latest effort by the Government to address the RSIPF’s National Operations Response capability, adding that this is another key service area which RAMSI has assisted the Government to step up, in its continuing effort to provide disciplined and well-managed capability to respond to any emerging security concerns nationwide.
Prime Minister Sogavare said the facility serves has an imperative function in that it accommodates the central nerve centre for conduct of important functions and services that will enable the RSIP to respond to any security situation with strategic and well managed and disciplined tactics using specially-designed equipment.
The Prime Minister said some of equipment in the facility, especially within the armoury and adjacent workplaces are the latest state-of-the-art security apparatus including a biometric security system which operates on thumb-scanning and closed circuit TV.
The closed circuit TV, he added, is connected to various monitors within the facility to allow for 24-hour visual scan of the interior of the facility and links directly with a central surveillance point also within RSIP.
Prime Minister Sogavare also used his speech at the occasion to explain to the nation the Government decision on the RSIP Limited Rearmament Programme.
“The decision to provide an ‘armed capability’ to the RSIP is a Government decision and it emanated from quite intense deliberations within the RSIPF, relevant Ministries and Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet over the RAMSI 2013-2017 Drawdown strategy.
“It was during these meetings that the decision was made to put a paper to Cabinet seeking approval for limited rearmament of certain RSIP Units.
“It was the decision by Cabinet in 2013 that authorised the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services to work with the RSIP and RAMSI to develop a framework and implement the RSIP Limited Rearmament Programme.”
The Prime Minister said the Government in collaboration with RAMSI has deliberately taken this process slowly and carefully and following more than a year of community consultations obtained the views of over 16,000 people who had been directly consulted including Ministers, Provincial Governments, Women’s Groups, Business Houses and Communities at large.
“From the feedback, there is clear consensus that the people of Solomon Islands supported rearmament with appropriate safeguards and strict procedures.
“It was with this finding in mind that the Government asked RAMSI to help the RSIP undertake a staged and limited rearmament programme along with this facility which we are here to celebrate.”
The ceremony included a ceremonial guard which the Prime Minister was accorded the honour of inspecting.
The occasion was witnessed by the Minister of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Hon Stanley Sofu, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Mr Edmond Sikua, Secretary to the Prime Minister, Mr Joseph Waleanisia, RAMSI Deputy Special Coordinator, Mr Alex Cameron, RAMSI Assistant Special Coordinator, Mr Masi Lomaloma, Australian High Commissioner, His Excellency Andrew Byrne, New Zealand High Commissioner, Her Excellency Marion Crawshaw as well as senior police and government officials.