By GLENDA AWIKIAK
POLICE and the National Capital District Commission do not seem to agree who is responsible for enforcing the buai ban in the capital.
Metropolitan Superintendent Perou N’Dranou urged the NCDC buai ban unit not to depend on NCD police but to tighten its own policies.
N’Dranou told yesterday’s betel nut ban stakeholder workshop in Port Moresby that he was operating with only 45 per cent manpower level and that was not enough to address all the issues in the city.
“NCD buai ban is an NCDC law and the police under, the Royal PNG Constabulary, are mandated to enforce the national laws,” he said.
“With the limited manpower I have, we are struggling at the moment to deal with big issues like stealing and murder and sexual abuse.
“When we are struggling to deal with big issues, we won’t have time and capacity to deal with the buai ban in the city.” N’Dranou said that in terms of arresting and charging people breaching the buai ban, it was often too hard for police to do so effectively because NCDC did not have a local court to hear the cases and so the perpetrators went free and the buai ban issue went on in a circle.
“We cannot arrest, charge a person and have his case heard in the district court because district courts are for hearing cases that are in breach of the national laws of the country.”
The consultant assisting NCDC and former city manager Honk Kiap said more than K23.5 million was spent by the commission in the past five years trying to enforce the ban in the city.
Kiap said the figure was what he could recall when he was the city manager.
It was an accumulation of amounts spent from 2013 until 2016, Kiap said.
“The amount was spent on areas including the public place cleaning component, the buai ban and NCDC reservist policing component,” he said.
“This amount does not involve or cover the amount that goes to the PNG Gardener who is a contractor contracted to do city street cleaning and beautification.
“Figures rose and then it has fallen but the most intensive part of this was in 2015 when almost about K10 million was spent on the operation.
“Our operation started to scale down when we started to see people getting affected trying to smuggle betel nuts by sea.
“Also NCDC reservists implications at the Hanuabada shootings scaled down our operations in 2016 and last year.”
N’Dranou said tough penalties wouldn’t be given out in local cases heard in national-level courts.
Tough penalties need to be imposed by NCDC to deal with the ban, he said.
Deputy city manager (community and social services) Lulu Ted said NCDC understood and acknowledged that there were loopholes within the current law and could not be enforced in court, so those were some of the issues that they were taking into consideration and would improve in the NCD-controlled buai ban plan.
Ted said they were taking into consideration lessons learnt in the last buai ban implementation plan and now they would look at ways to work with the Police Department and other partners.
“I understand getting offenders and prosecuting them in the court of law, there is still no clear linkage with our law that spells out how we can prosecute offenders,” Ted said.
The workshop was held to get the views and comments of stakeholders, government agencies, betel nut vendors and growers and bus owners on how everyone can work together to tackle the issue of betel nut spittle and rubbish, and police harassment of growers and those delivering the nuts to Port Moresby.
By GLENDA AWIKIAK