Concerns over foreign vessels

National, Normal

The National – Monday, January 3, 2011


WHARVES and other ports of call for passenger ships, barges and other vessels are weak points of entry where a lot of crimes are likely to occur, a senior law and order officer said.

Police in East New Britain were forced to ward off locals in their canoes last Thursday afternoon after they had swarmed a foreign shipping vessel that had berthed at the Rabaul Wharf.

The locals had gone to exchange garden produce and other goods for fish from men on board the vessel.

East New Britain police commander Supt Sylvester Kalaut, who was with the team last Thursday, condemned the action by locals.

Kalaut said there had been a lot more locals going on board foreign fishing and other vessels that come into ports throughout the country.

He said there had been an increase in sexual crimes in the province that was related to foreign vessels.

Kalaut said after inspecting the vessel, they had gone to check, they were surprised to see so many locals in their canoes next to one of the foreign vessels.

He said he had tried 

to converse with some of the men on board the 

vessel but no one on 

board could speak or understand English.

Kalaut said in past cases, pornographic material had been confiscated from foreign vessels, adding that young women had also gone on board for a drink or for a pleasurable time with men on board.

He said such activities among the locals and men from the vessels also posed a threat to the health of the people.

“There has not been thorough and frequent checks done by customs or other relevant authorities and this is where the weakness in effecting policing these vessels lie,” Kalaut said, adding that there was also the issue of drugs smuggling and trafficking that should not be overlooked.

These people, he said, came into the country at ports and cause problems to the local communities.

He added that it had been difficult to police these areas because authorities like the police could not to conduct search on these vessels.

He suggested that police officers be gazette as customs officers so they could also assist in effecting policing of these vessels.

The government or any other relevant authorities should take a more corroborative approach and buy a ship for police to conduct policing within our local and international ports, he said.

In ENB, this might be only one such case but Kalaut said he believed the same has also been happening in other ports.

Kalaut challenged all relevant authorities like the National Fisheries Authority, Customs, Quarantine and the police to have a mutual understanding so that all parties could work together and minimise such trouble at sea ports.