By REBECCA KUKU
POLICE have more important public safety and security issues to deal with daily than chasing buai vendors off streets and public places, says Police Minister Bryan Kramer.
He told The National that it was “just not practical” for police officers to be treating as a priority the enforcement of the ban.
“Police (should) be focusing on ensuring public safety, including running operations and addressing major crimes,” he said.
“Minor crimes can also be addressed. But it’s just not practical for police to be enforcing the betel nut ban policy.”
Police teams on foot or mobile patrol duties often clash with informal market vendors selling items such as buai on roadsides, confiscating the popular fruit and other items they can get their hands on.
Kramer told The National that the top priority for police officers was to provide safety and security to the people.
National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop earlier told The National that the 2013 betel nut ban policy had been amended with City Hall regulating it.
“But Parliament passed laws to make it illegal to sell betel nut in public places at the beginning of this year. It does not apply only to Port Moresby but to the rest of the country as well,” he said.
“Currently, the NCDC has not been enforcing the betel nut ban as we are waiting for the magisterial services and police to synchronise our effort before we start enforcing the ban again.”
Parkop said Parliament had amended the Summary Offence Act to have the buai ban policy become law, meaning that people would be prosecuted for selling betel nut in public places.
“Once the NCDC Magisterial Services and Police synchronise, NCDC will than start enforcing the betel nut ban. And people will then be arrested, charged and prosecuted in court for selling betel nut in public places,” he said.
Meanwhile, a police officer appeared in the Waigani Committal Court charged with murder in relation to an incident on Sept 16 in which buai vendor Peter Pamben was killed.
Constable John Selan Lavona, 40, from Rombucho village in Manus was charged with one count of wilful murder before Magistrate Cosmas Bidar.
“There are also other officers involved and yet to be arrested and charged. These are allegations made against you but investigations are yet to be completed,” Bidar said.
By REBECCA KUKU