Cracking down on buai chewers

Editorial, Normal

The National, Wednesday March 2nd, 2016

 THE days of chewing betel nut in public places and public motors vehicles in the National Capital District are over.

That’s the message from the National Capital District Commission as it begins to target people who continue to defy the buai ban.

Offenders can expect no mercy with a spot fine of K500 and jail time if they are unable to fork out the cash.

Announcing new approach yesterday, deputy city manager and buai ban controller Honk Kiap made it quite clear that the law will come down hard on betel nut chewers. 

“The worse culprits are the chewers who buying betel nut, throwing betel nut skins somewhere and spitting the red betel nut juice on the pavement and elsewhere.”

According to Kiap, the NCD betel nut ban is still in force and anyone selling or chewing betel nut in public places is in breach of the NCD Betel Nut Control Law of 2013.  

“We have restrategised after looking at all other options and decided that those who are enjoying their betel nut are some of the major contributors to the unsightly scenes of our city insofar as betel nut related littering is concerned.”

Kiap says the new approach will see the enforcement of the NCD Betel Nut Control Law simultaneously with the NCDC Litter Laws, which covers general littering including the chewing and spitting of betel nut in public places.

NCDC enforcement units will be carrying out random checks on public places 

and public motor vehicles including PMVs and 


“People will be taken off the vehicles and charged and jailed if they don’t pay a spot fine of K500.” 

Meanwhile, NCD Governor Powes Parkop says he will maintain the buai ban but also listen to the betel nut vendors.

He told The National last year that he had no intention of stopping vendors in informal and formal sectors but to help them to become successful, responsible and reliable citizens in a fast-changing urban environment.

While this newspaper respects Parkop’s rationale, we have said from the beginning that the buai ban would not work, that it was discriminatory and that it was the wrong way to address this social problem.

For the majority of our people it is a habit that cannot be eradicated by political edict. 

The reasons of cleanliness and of health are noble and we support that but we have opposed the betel nut ban for a number of reasons, principle among them being the fact that it seems to be directed at those at the bottom of the economic food chain – the mothers and the unemployed.

This little nut keeps a lot of people engaged and gainfully employed around the country. 

It is the only local market item that has been in the basket of goods which determine the Consumer Price Index since the 1970s. 

No proper study has been done but it is obvious that betel nut sales support a huge number of unemployed people. 

To now make them unemployed by banning the trade of betel nuts and to at the same time not provide alternate means to an income for these people is to court disaster. 

A desperate and hungry population will employ desperate and angry means to survive. 

It is a basic human instinct that transcends all other. Crime is just one option. 

Trading betel nut is not a crime.  

It is an economic activity. 

Yes, the chewing of the nut is an acknowledged health hazard but so is smoking cigarettes, drinking excessive amounts or alcohol and intake of too much sugar through canned drinks. 

The by-products of these goods in abandoned cigarette butts, in empty and smashed beer bottles and empty canned drinks contribute so much non-biodegradable litter but City Hall chooses to see as litter the smaller, biodegradable betel nut shells. 

And the large corporations that produce the cigarettes, beer and canned drinks get off scot-free without being held to account for their contribution to the increasing lifestyle diseases and the litter around the city.

Let us listen to the voices of the original inhabitants of Port Moresby – the Central people. 

Lift the ban and educate the idiots.