Mogadishu – Somalia’s maritime capabilities received a major boost on 30 March with the inauguration of a new, state-of-the-art facility for the Somali Police Force (SPF) in the capital, Mogadishu, funded by the European Union and developed by the United Nations.
“In recent years Somalia has expanded its maritime law enforcement capability, allowing the SPF to deliver safety and security around Mogadishu Port and along Somalia’s coastline. This furnished and equipped base will allow the SPF to become increasingly more effective,” the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Somalia, Anita Kiki Gbeho, said in her remarks at the inauguration ceremony.
“For Somalia to continue expanding its ‘blue economy’ and benefit from wealth generating opportunities its vast coast offers, maritime security and law enforcement will need to continue playing an enabling role,” she added, while also noting that the facility will supports the development of Somalia’s ocean governance structures.
With its key location along main international shipping routes, 3 300 kilometres of coastline and extensive sea-based resources, the ‘blue economy’ is widely seen as having great potential to contribute to Somalia’s economic development. Innovation and growth in the coastal, marine and maritime sector provides the ability to deliver food, energy, transport, among other products and services.
The $3 million building project was implemented by the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The facility will provide an operational base from which the SPF can operate around Mogadishu Port and along the Somali coastline, as well as helping build a long-term maritime law enforcement capacity.
The facility is made up of a furnished headquarters block with information technology equipment, a detention facility, a floating jetty and boat ramp, and an accommodation unit. In addition, it has been equipped with maritime communications equipment to enable operational readiness, and 60 police officers have been provided with training and workshops on maritime law enforcement, marine engineering and maritime communications.
“The SPF maritime law enforcement component will have a much, much more effective ability to operate and interact offshore and within the coastal areas of Somalia, to ensure maritime crime is reduced and effectively work forward on that,” the UNOPS Country Director for Somalia, Tim Lardner, said on the sidelines of the inauguration.
Also at the event, UNODC’s Regional Representative for East Africa, Neil J Walsh, highlighted the key role the facility – and partnerships – will play in aiding efforts to support Somalia’s fight against transnational and maritime organized crime.
“We’re able to help police and investigators visit, board, search and seize in keeping maritime security to the highest possible capability. Doing this together, there is no more important partner for us than the Federal Government of Somalia, and working with our partners across the UN and across the EU, we can make a real difference in the lives, real difference in the security of the maritime capability of the Federal Government of Somalia,” Walsh said.
Construction of the new facility began in 2018.