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Coast Guard vessels at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Coast Guard Service Calliaqua Base on Feb. 28, 2024.
Coast Guard vessels at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Coast Guard Service Calliaqua Base on Feb. 28, 2024.
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The public sector in St. Vincent and the Grenadines continues to lose trained people to other countries, with the Coast Guard becoming the latest victim. 

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves spoke publicly about the issue again this week, six months after an opposition politician called for action to stem the tide.

The situation at the Coast Guard is such that the commander, Deon Henry flagged it in a report to Gonsalves, who is also minister of national security.

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And, one source familia r with the situation told iWitness News that the country should brace for the exit of even more of its Coast Guard officers.

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“There is just too much pressure. If they ask the officers why they quit, they would know. There are still more officers who are planning to leave,” the source told iWitness News.

Gonsalves spoke about the situation this week, saying that the officers are leaving to join other countries’ armed forces and to work on oil rigs.

The prime minister said he had received a detailed report about the “accomplishments of the Coast Guard last year”, adding that though the government has added assets, “we have some weaknesses, we have some challenges.

“But we have to thank the Coast Guard for the work they have done.”

The prime minister said that last year, the Coast Guard saved 113 lives — 92 Vincentians and 21 non-Vincentians.

They conducted 72 medical evacuations, over 300 logistical support operations, 55 search and rescue operations, responded to “a couple of drownings” and arrested “a few people too” who were breaking the law.

He said the commander of the Coast Guard wrote him “a good report”, indicating things that they are doing well and not so well and the reason, “which is what I like and what we need to do to maintain those things which we are doing well and to improve on those things which are not doing so well.

“He writes this sentence to me and I’m very concerned about this one because it’s easier to deal with the issues concerning fixing up a base, getting an additional safe boat or something of the sort. After all, we spent $20 million to get the Captain Mulzac, the offshore patrol vessel,” the prime minister said, referring to the flagship of the Coast Guard fleet.

“He says, ‘One major challenge was the loss of junior, trained technical staff to foreign military forces,” Gonsalves said.

He added, “A number of them, also from the police force, they get the training and then they go and join the British Army among other places, other armed forces — oil rigs.

“Of course, the oil rig work is dangerous and rough but they pay good money.”

The prime minister said the country has also been affected by a loss of nurses, particularly since COVID.

“But these are matters which we have to address on an ongoing basis.

Meanwhile, last October, opposition politician Laverne Gibson-Velox told the New Democratic Party’s “Hope For Home” town hall meeting in New York that the practice, in SVG of placing people in jobs, based solely on political affiliation, is wrong.

“Sometimes when we eliminate our brightest minds and put ‘square pegs in round holes’ we bear the consequences of mediocrity, low productivity and unprofessional conduct,” Laverne Gibson-Velox

“We constantly hear of the increase in scholarships but it seems we’re training our citizens to develop other countries. The brain drain is real,” she said.

“Job recruitment and promotions within the public sector must be commensurate with competence, not a party card. The NDP will recruit persons based on merit. And that’s a promise,” she said.

One reply on “Coast Guard officers quitting — ‘too much pressure’”

  1. Wait your scientifically trained are next. Unlike some coast guard officer you can’t walk down the road and find replacement.
    The only people who are not leaving are the over – staffed , low skill administrators who are highly rewarded for producing little while technical areas are under staffed and under paid.

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