By JECONIAH LUKIMA
REGULAR border crossing by traditionally related people between the two closest islands in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands will be strictly monitored by agencies at border offices, an official says.
Chief Migration Officer Solomon Kantha told The National that those people also needed passports to travel between the two countries.
Their travel documents will be processed on the PNG side at the border offices to be set up in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB).
He said only the traditional border crossers could use this arrangement.
“All foreign nationals must come through Port Moresby to be cleared before they travel to AROB. Any foreigner who enters AROB from Solomon Islands will be returned to where he came from,” he said.
It takes around 30 minutes for Shortland islanders from the Solomons to reach Buin in the AROB.
Kantha said Immigration had discussed with the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), Customs and police about the monitoring of the situation.
“Immigration has discussed it with ABG Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau and he is supportive of the border agencies setting up an office in Buin,” Kantha said.
“We are also in discussion with Customs on how we can establish our presence in Buin, and regulate irregular movements across the border between ARB and Solomon Islands. The sea border between the AROB and Solomon Islands is challenging to manage by border agencies including Immigration.”
The PNG Immigration and Citizenship Authority has an office in Buka in northern Bougainville. It is working with border agencies such as Customs, police and the ABG to monitor the “irregular movements” of foreign nationals across the border.
He said Buin and Sirowai, where most of the movements occurred on a daily basis, were not declared ports of entry. South Bougainville MP Timothy Masiu told The National that people from those two places visited each other because of the traditional ties they had.
“We have families there and they also have families here. We have these traditional ties where our people visit them and they visit us,” Masiu said.
By JECONIAH LUKIMA