Now, MMEA is left waiting for boats

Maritime necessities: MMEA patrol vessels are essential for effective monitoring to safeguard the nation’s waters.

PETALING JAYA: After the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) scandal, a new controversy over the delivery of boats has broken out.

This time, it is over three offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) which have yet to be delivered.

MMEA had been scheduled to receive at least one of them this month, after the government had previously given an 18-month extension to the company, TH Heavy Engineering, to complete all three vessels.

So far, none has been delivered, Sinar Harian reported. The company too is facing financial pressure.

In June, it had been reported that the Home Ministry had assured the MMEA that at least one of the vessels would be delivered this year.

The report stated that TH Heavy was facing losses of up to RM628.9mil and debt amounting to RM165mil, while only having cash flow of RM27.5mil to complete the said vessels. This has raised questions on whether it will be able to complete the three vessels as promised.

Defence analyst Zaki Salleh was quoted as saying the delay in the arrival of the OPVs was detrimental towards the MMEA’s efforts to efficiently safeguard the nation’s waters.

“Most MMEA ships are old and hand-me-downs from the Royal Malaysian Police and the Royal Malaysian Navy.

“An OPV can patrol for longer hours and improve efforts to prevent intrusions,” he said.

Existing patrol boats, he said, could only operate for up to four days in a row and would have to return to base on the fifth day to obtain supplies, which would result in missed patrols.

“Although the MMEA can function with other assets like helicopters, OPVs are especially crucial now,” he said.

He said delay in OPV delivery should not have happened, as the contracted company had had ample time to build them.

“We do not want a repeat of the LCS issue,” he said.

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