Send troops to Western, govt told

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OPPOSITION Leader Belden Namah has urged the Government to deploy security personnel to the mouth of the Torasi River in Western to stop Indonesian fishermen poaching in Papua New Guinea waters.
Namah said the illegal fishing had been going on for some time and posed a risk of the transmission of the Coronavirous (Covid-19).
“I have reports, backed up by photographs, of up to 25 fishing boats moored on the Torasi River on Oct 21,” he said.
“While these boats are illegally in Papua New Guinea waters, the greater danger at this time is the Covid-19 transmission or the possibility that they could be engaged in illegal human smuggling activities (as well).
“The Covid-19 positive cases and deaths have spiked in Western and one would expect this area to be heavily guarded and all border crossing activities, even by traditional border crossing, to be suspended.”
Namah, who is Vanimo-Green MP, said illegal human smuggling activities were also rife along the PNG-Indonesian border from Wutung in West Sepik to Torasi in Western.
“Article 5 of the 1980 Agreement of Maritime Boundaries and Cooperation stipulates that both countries will respect the rights of customary landowners to fish either side of the borders using traditional methods,” he said.
“The fishing boats I have seen in the photos clearly do not fit the description so they have to be poaching.
“Instead of operating in their comfort zones in Port Moresby, the Covid-19 controller, who is also the police commissioner, the defence force commander, Immigration and Customs and border patrol should be touring these red zones for first-hand information, monitoring and surveillance.
“Instead of just concentrating resources on the vaccination rollout, they should also be guarding our international borders to prevent transmission and also stop these illegal activities by Indonesians.”