The National, Wednesday July 10th, 2013
PEOPLE in Southern Highlands are turning to homebrew and marijuana because of the spiralling cost of alcohol in the province, a businessman claims.
On Monday, Southern Highlands Chamber of Commerce president Berry Mini said as a result of the consumption of homebrew, many mentally affected individuals were singing on the streets of Mendi town and at the Wara Magani market.
“I do not know the exact number of people who are affected and are in the districts, contributing to our social problems,” he said.
Mini said the people could not afford the high price of alcohol that was being smuggled into the province.
He said a bottle of beer would go for K10 while a 250ml bottle of dark rum would be priced at K50.
“I call on Governor William Powi and his provincial executive council to be more reasonable and realistic in the alcohol ban,” he said.
Mini claimed the alcohol-related problems in the province were far more serious than when there was no ban.
“The ban is simply not working as the provincial government has proven that it does not have the capacity and resources to enforce it,” he said.
Mini said alcohol was sold freely in the province and the authorities did nothing to prevent it.
He said the people manning checkpoints at Wara Kagul, the border with Western Highlands and at Kaupena were making good money from smugglers.
He said the provincial government had failed to put in place measures to stop people smuggling alcohol in and also could not stop the production of homebrew nor the smoking of marijuana.
Mini said the ban was forcing people to dig deeper into their pockets and those who could not were turning to homebrew and marijuana.
He said the chamber had made a detailed submission advising former governor Anderson Agiru against imposing the ban when it was about to be introduced three years ago.
He claimed the ban which was imposed in 2010 in an effort to curb lawlessness, was politically motivated and had overlooked all their recommendations.