By BARNABAS ORERE PONDROS
A SICK, stomach-churning discovery was made when PNG Customs stumbled on a fast food outlet in Porgera, Enga province, that prepared scones on a dirty floor next to dog cages that had dog excreta and urine on the floor.
Customs officers were shocked when they saw that food was being prepared in the vicinity of animal waste and that “dogs were also sleeping on the floor used to mix dough for the scones”.
In a report, officers said: “The dog cage is just between the two ovens and the floor is literally covered with animal waste and the room stinks horribly”.
“Freshly-baked scones, to be sold to locals were also found on the filthy floor filled with dust, dirt, cockroaches and flies, and also had dirty laundry hung in the room.
“It’s very unhygienic, even the flour bags stacked at the corner had animal waste on them and can easily be contaminated,” the report said.
The bakery was part of a retail outlet owned and operated by foreign nationals.
“I was appalled and horrified to see the conditions in which these so-called investors are operating their businesses-they have no respect for our people’s health,” an annoyed Customs commissioner Gary Juffa, said.
This nauseating find was made during a joint operation dubbed “High Altitude” last December by Customs, the transnational crime unit, police prosecution and British American Tobacco.
The operation targeted foreign owned businesses in the Highlands region suspected of possessing illegal firearms and contraband, but stumbled upon the dirty bakery in the cause of the raids.
Mr Juffa expressed dismay at this irresponsible business practice that was putting the health of the locals at risk.
He has since directed that the reports be presented to the provincial government and health authorities.
Informing the relevant authorities was the first step, the next step Mr Juffa wanted undertaken is for stronger laws to be enacted that will have “such irresponsible persons be penalised and removed from PNG”.
“We have to protect our people, we cannot stand by and let bad investors come and mistreat our people,” he said.
Mr Juffa’s concern was that such bad practices could lead to diseases such as dysentery and cholera.
“Our simple people without knowing the unhygienic conditions of the baking area come and buy scones, putting their lives at risk.”
Other retailers searched in Mt Hagen, Minj, and Banz and Porgera operated under similar conditions.
Most of the businesses searched were owned by Chinese and Indonesian nationals.