Tue, Oct 10, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet approves patrol boat budget

REPLACEMENTS:The construction of five customs patrol boats would begin next year and is expected to be completed by 2021, an unnamed Cabinet official said

By Lo Tien-pin  /  Staff reporter

The Cabinet has approved a NT$870 million (US$28.64 million) budget to build five 100-tonne customs patrol boats.

The new boats are to be designed and constructed locally to increase border protection capacity, replace aging ships and improve navigation safety.

The government has already launched the project and the ship designs are expected to be finished this year before the project is put to public tender next year, a Cabinet official said yesterday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The construction of the ships would begin next year and is expected to be completed by 2021, the official said.

The new ships will replace two aging patrol boats at Keelung customs, one at Taichung customs and two at Kaohsiung customs, the official added.

The Cabinet first approved a shipbuilding project proposed by the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) before approving the Customs Administration’s project, and both projects are to be executed in accordance with the government’s indigenous shipbuilding program.

The CGA’s “Coast Guard Vessel Development Project” proposes to build a total of 141 vessels of various classes, with a total budget of NT$42.6 billion.

The project is to include 17 100-tonne patrol boats, with each costing NT$249.1 million for a total of NT$4.23 billion.

The Customs Administration’s patrol boat replacement project proposes to build five 100-tonne patrol boats at a total cost of NT$870.56 million, with each boat costing about NT$174.11 million.

The budget will be spread out over a five-year span, with NT$219.88 million allocated to the Customs Administration next year.

The boats commissioned by the CGA and the Customs Administration, although with the same tonnage, have different functions, designs and equipment, so their costs are different, said another official, who also requested anonymity.

According to a report by the Ministry of Finance, which oversees the Customs Administration, Taiwan has signed cooperation agreements and memorandums of understanding regarding customs regulations with various nations.

Foreign customs officials have been visiting Taiwan to understand the nation’s customs operations, the report said.

Offshore patrol is a critical customs operation for visiting officials, and the administration should replace aging patrol boats with modern and efficient vessels in line with the coast guard’s maintenance protocols, the ministry said.

The nation’s active customs patrol boats began their service between 1997 and 2000, and their navigation safety is compromised by their aging structure, the ministry said.

It would be cost-ineffective to extend their service life considering their maintenance costs, according to an evaluation by the Ship and Ocean Industries Research and Development Center, a government-funded shipbuilder.

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