Beer fuels Tari crime

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UNCONTROLLED sale and consumption of beer in Tari, Southern Highlands province, and the apparent inability of authorities to control this has resulted in increased violence and lawlessness in Tari and the Hela region.
Kikita village chief Eric Marabe said yesterday in Tari that the departure of eight members of the international medical team Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders from Tari General Hospital is a direct result of local youths attacking the MSF staff and patients in the night after a drinking binge.
Mr Marabe called on the Southern Highlands provincial government to immediately impose the much-publicised liquor ban in Tari and the Hela region.
He said the departure of the MSF was only “one of the many incidents and turmoil that the public in Tari and Hela go through” as drunkards run riot in the area.
Mr Marabe said before the multi-billion PNG LNG project, the new Hela province and other developments unfold in Tari and Hela, the alcohol problem should be immediately addressed by the authorities.
Mr Marabe said since the withdrawal of the Port Moresby-based police mobile squad 04 unit from Tari last week, there had been a high number of alcohol-related incidents in Tari and the Hela region as there was no control on the sale and consumption of alcohol in the area.
He said last week, a drunk youth drove a screw driver into the head of a young boy.
He said the boy was returning to Hoiyebia village after witnessing his younger sister’s graduation at Kuluanda primary school in Tari last Tuesday.
He said on the way near the town, the drunk youth assaulted his sister and when the boy went to her rescue, the youth pulled out a screw driver and drove it into the boy’s head.
The boy is currently undergoing treatment at Goroka Base Hospital after being medivaced from Tari hospital that same evening by the MSF team.
Mr Marabe said this was only one example of drunken youths attacking, terrorising and assaulting the travelling public in Tari town and Hela.
He said beer sale outlets had suddenly mushroomed all over Tari town and the consumption rate was alarming.
“Even school age boys under 15 are consuming beer without any regard for the rule of law. Beer is also sold on the main road in Tari town.”
Rev Olene Yawai, chairman of the Hela council of churches, supported the call and said a petition from the 14 churches in the region was with SHP Governor Anderson Agiru and his provincial executive council (PEC).