Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) yesterday has taken delivery of a purpose-built National Response Department (NRD) facility, which includes headquarters for the RSIPF’s specialist police units and a state-of-the-art police armoury.
The handing over was described as yet another important milestone on the path to the limited rearmament of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) and the strengthening of the RSIPF’s capacity to police the nation, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
A brief ceremony yesterday morning at the Rove police headquarter RAMSI Special Coordinator Quinton Devlin symbolically presented the keys of the multi-million dollar facility to the RSIPF Commissioner Frank Prendergast in the presence of the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
Also witnessing the event was the Minister of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Hon. Stanley Sofu, the Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Andrew Byrne; the New Zealand High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Marion Crawshaw; and senior officers of the Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI.
“The National Response Department facility is a critical piece of policing infrastructure that will, amongst other things, permit the limited rearmament of the RSIPF and allow Police Response Team (PRT) officers to be better positioned to respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week to security incidents in Honiara and other parts of the country,” said Mr Devlin.
“Importantly, the multi-million dollar RAMSI-built building contains a high-tech armoury that will house police weapons securely once the Solomon Islands Government gives the green light for the RSIPF to be rearmed.”
The Special Coordinator underlined: “The building and armoury has state-of-the-art security, including biometric security thumb print scanning and closed circuit television monitoring. With the assistance of RAMSI, the armourers have also been selected carefully and very strict rules and procedures have been developed for issuing and returning weapons each day.”
“Both the Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI are confident that history will not repeat itself,” he said, referring to the raid on the Rove police armoury during the Tensions period.
The NRD facility, which is one of the final RAMSI Participating Police Force (PPF) infrastructure projects, contains: a multi-zone armoury; an armourers’ workspace; a firearm unloading bay; office accommodation for the Police Response Team, Close Personal Protection team and Explosive Ordnance team; storage facilities; and male and female barrack accommodation.
During the hand-over ceremony, Mr Devlin noted that there was exactly one year until the conclusion of RAMSI on 30 June 2017 and the resumption of full control by the RSIPF for policing and national security in the country.
“This building is another important step towards ensuring the RSIPF has the right facilities, equipment and tools to deliver security and law and order to the people of this country when RAMSI leaves in 12 months,” he said.
Mr Devlin added: “Before RAMSI departs in June next year, RAMSI will also deliver a number of other infrastructure projects. These include a new Fire Station in Honiara, new police stations in Naha (Honiara) and several provincial locations, additional boat ramps as further Stabicraft police boats are delivered to provincial locations, and the relocation of accommodation blocks from the RAMSI base in East Honiara to the RSIPF Headquarters in West Honiara”.
The construction of the NRD facility cost SBD $9.4 million, was managed by international logistics company HKL, and was built by local company MP Construction.