Minister warns logging companies

National, Normal


LOGGING companies that run foul with Papua New Guinea’s laws or are socially irresponsible will be dealt with in the strongest terms, warns Forests Minister Belden Namah.
“If those illegal activities are true, my position is very clear. I will condemn those responsible,” he said.
Mr Namah said forestry and logging companies had a social and statutory duty to act accordingly and responsibly.
“Yes, if forestry companies do not abide by the laws of this country, they will face the consequences. We will deal with the perpetrators,” he said.
Mr Namah said he had yet to be briefed on the matter but would wait for the police reports to act accordingly.
He was responding to The National’s exclusive front page story that Wewak police had busted a syndicate supplying local and foreign women for prostitution near the Kaup Logging Company site in Angoram, East Sepik.
Police arrested nine women, aged under 20, in compromising positions with the logging company’s employees.
The house they were arrested in was suspected to be used as a vice den.
During police interviews with the women, including two senior high school students and a government officer working at the camp, the admitted to having sex for money.
They said they were paid between K200 and K800 per month.
Mr Namah said he would embark on a tour of logging camps later this year to ensure they were abiding by health, safety and being social responsibilities.
“I will tour the camps to inspect and see for myself some of the issues that have been raised,” he said.
Mr Namah said he has worked hard with the support of the PNG Forest Authority to bring the industry back on track and as such he would not tolerate agencies or companies tarnishing the image of the industry.
“We have brought the authority from many issues into an agency that is transparent and accountable and we have introduced policy reforms and we hope we all can work together to ensure the industry contributes meaningfully to our nation’s development,” he said.