EASTERN Highlands Governor Malcolm KelaSmith’s invitation to New Zealand investors to invest in his province has been described as a risky proposition.
A community leader from Kokinage village in Bena, James Safanota, said although the idea looks great, “it is a risky venture as Eastern Highlands now leads the figures in criminal activities, tribal fights, armed criminals terrorising innocent villagers, drug cultivation and marketing”.
“In fact, you walk the streets of Goroka and you will notice escalating law and order problems, the number of hold-ups, bag-snatching, public loitering and other social disorder has increased.
“The number of criminals running around Kainantu town freely with high-powered firearms is alarming,” he said.
Mr Safanota said tribal fights in different parts of the province must also be brought under control before such an invitation was extended to our neighbours.
“Currently, the Asians are conducting business under heavily fortified premises.
“How is Mr Smith going to assure the safety and well-being of the people conducting business in the province?
“He must put his priorities right if he is serious in ensuring this province develops on par with other provinces in PNG,” Mr Safanota said.
He reiterated that the current police hierarchy in the province needed to be revamped as its performance “is a disgrace”.
“Many police personnel do not have respect for the uniform they wear, they have attitude and morale problems they need to address.
“The chewing of buai, smoking, drinking while in uniform during official hours is a national disgrace,” he said.
Mr Safanota said all Government departments were having funding problems but that should not be an excuse for police personnel disgracing the uniform and the profession they swore to uphold without fear or favour.
He appealed to all eight MPs from the province to work together to address the law and order concerns.
Mr Safanota also challenged the provincial administration to be pro-active to such issues to improve the image of the province.
“The once beautiful town of Goroka is now infested with petty criminals that you have to be on guard just to cross the street for an ice-cream,” he said.
“It is an even worse scenario at Goroka market where people from enemy tribes chop each other like animals.
“This is also the venue where youths openly sell and consume marijuana, gamble, snatch bags and cause other social disorders.
“New Zealanders are not new to this province, they had the once successful project like honey but it is now rundown,” Mr Safanota said.
Mr Smith had extended the invitation during the visit of New Zealand Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand to Goroka late last month.