Border unmanned for four hours as police, soldiers protest

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POLICE and soldiers manning Papua New Guinea’s international border in West Sepik withdrew yesterday, leaving the country’s most vulnerable Covid-19 entry point open for part of the day.
It was not known whether there was an influx of illegal crossers from the Indonesian side at this time of the state of emergency (SOE) when Covid-19 cases were on the increase there.
The PNG soldiers and police sent there to prevent people crossing from both sides, left the border unmanned up to four hours as they carried out a peaceful protest against not being paid allowance for the job.
All security personnel, including soldiers and police, are entitled to a SOE allowance and should be paid, Opposition Leader Belden Namah said.
Namah made the comments after the police mobile squad units and soldiers took action.
“They stormed the Government office in protest and stayed there for four hours this morning till they were addressed by the provincial administrator,” he said. Namah said this was the second time that security personnel had protested against unpaid allowances, with the first incident happening in Hela.
“The Government must understand that Covid-19 is a pandemic and there are health risks involved,” he said.
“Security personnel in the frontlines must be paid allowances.”
Namah said the Government must remember that security personnel had families. “Why are the funds not being made available?
“These security personnel must be paid their allowances.”
Meanwhile, State of Emergency Controller and Police Commissioner David Manning has given his assurance that security personnel would be paid their allowances.
“We are still progressing payments, but they will be paid their allowances,” he said.
Defence commander Maj-Gen Gilbert Toropo could not be reached for comments yesterday but a soldier based in West Sepik, who wished to remain anonymous, told The National that they had a peaceful protest at the local government administration office for not being paid an allowance.
“Many of us left our family and came here to protect the borders.
“There are an increasing number of cases of across the border.
“Many of our brothers from the police mobile squad were also flown in from Port Moresby and it is only fair that we are paid a risk allowance,” he said.
Governor Tony Wouwou and provincial administrator Conrad Tilau could not be reached for comments too yesterday.