By PETER WARI
POLICE in Southern Highlands will crack down on “lazybones” who take advantage of landslides along the Highlands Highway and charge hefty fees on passing vehicles.
Police made their first move two weeks ago by arresting 10 people who were conducting illegal roadblocks along that section of the highway affected by a landslip. They were each bailed for K300.
Southern Highlands police commander Chief Supt Sibron Papoto said those people were lazy because they stood along the highway and kept an eye on the road affected by landslips and collected money.
He said the Highlands region was prone to massive landslides during the rainy season and currently it was experiencing heavy rainfall.
“The government drafted the Protection of Transport Infrastructure Act 2010 partly in response to massive compensation demands related to state-owned transport infrastructures,” Papoto said.
“The law dealt with compensation demands, the protection of road reserves and damage to infrastructure and there are penalties for people who breach it.”
Section 10, which deals with compensation demands, says any individual or group who intentionally and without lawful authority, seeks to gain anything, including compensation, from anyone in authority over any transport infrastructure, is guilty of an offence and will be fined K500,000 or serve a jail term of not more than five years or both.
It also stated in section 4 of the Act which deals with damage or encroachment of road reserves that anyone who erected speed humps or a structure intended to control the speed of vehicles or excavates, destroys or alters any part of a public road or road reserve, is guilty of an offence and will be fined not more than K100,000 or serve a jail term of not more than two years or both.
Papoto said there were already laws in placed and he wanted people living along roadsides near landslip areas to immediately report to police or the Department of Works.
He said if contractors engaged in maintenance or sealing were available, they would remove the debris and not landowners.
He appealed to people living on higher grounds to take extra precautions during heavy rainfall and urged them to move away and live in lower grounds. He said people, animals, homes and properties were buried in big landslides and warned people to be wary.
By PETER WARI