By ANDREW ALPHONSE
THERE is a serious liquor problem contributing to increased lawlessness in Southern Highlands, provincial police commander Supt Jimmy Onopia said.
Supt Onopia admitted this yesterday when commenting on concerns raised last week by Tari community leaders about the increase in crime due to alcohol abuse in Tari and Hela region.
He said the much publicised province-wide liquor ban which the provincial executive council (PEC) agreed to impose was supposed to be effected on April 1 but later postponed to Oct 1 this year.
He said the ban was not even effected because police and the provincial leaders were heavily engaged in the PNG LNG project’s licensed-based benefits sharing agreement (LBBSA) forums and signings in the province.
Supt Onopia condemned the attacks by drunkards on the international medical team Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders from Tari general hospital.
MSF evacuated eight of the international MSF members last week from Tari due to the attacks and has scaled down its Tari operations especially major life-saving and emergency surgeries.
Supt Onopia said the attack on MSF team was a regrettable incident as these friends from overseas came to help us in providing much needed medical services to our people.
“It is very shameful when we allow few drunkards to attack them,” Supt Onopia said.
Local Tari leaders also said the withdrawal of Port Moresby based police mobile squad unit-four from Tari early this month had caused the increase of beer related lawlessness in Tari and Hela.