POLICE in Southern Highlands province may be forced to operate without vehicles due to lack of maintenance funds.
Provincial police commander, Supt Jimmy Onopia, said the police did not have enough money to pay for operational and maintenance costs, and could resort to stopping all vehicles from running.
Supt Onopia said the provincial police department is beingv allocated K25,000 every month for its more than 35 vehicle fleet which is not enough.
He said this has left his department with a debt of K700,000 owed to its Mt Hagen-based contractor, Highlands Workshop.
He blamed poor road conditions in the province that has caused an increase in maintenance costs for the vehicles.
Supt Onopia said he had already called upon appropriate authorities to intervene, and as a final option, had written to the provincial government to for financial assistance to help repay the debts.
He said if there was no response, he will have to resort to stopping the vehicles from operating.
“If nothing is coming through, I will have no choice but to put the whole of SHP police fleet to a halt,” he said.
Meanwhile, Supt Onopia said houses at the Mendi Magani Police Barracks have been demolished and rebuilt with modern H65 structures.
He said the Law and Justice sector and the provincial government funded the buildings at a cost of K2.2 million.
He also said construction of the new Ialibu police barracks, which was awarded K1 million last year, has been delayed by its contractors for unknown reasons, while work on the Mendi based North Kagua police barracks and the new Koin mobile squad barracks, costing K2.2 million each have yet to commence.
Constructions for the K6 million Tari police barracks is currently underway, while work on the Tari police headquarters worth K3 million will begin soon.