ZACHERY PER reports on the road that Simbu has travelled after launching its anti-drug and homebrew campaign last year and where it is heading
SIMBU’S fight to rid the province of drugs and homebrew, or steam, is far from over.
This was the message at the first drug and homebrew awareness anniversary in Kundiawa recently.
Simbu provincial police commander Supt Joseph Tondop, who is leading the fight to end the illegal practice, made the declaration before a huge crowd that braved the heavy downpour to listen to anti-drug and homebrew messages.
The gathering for the first anniversary in the centre of Kundiawa town was similar to the initial launch of drug and homebrew awareness on Sept 26 last year.
Supt Tondop initiated the fight after realising the negative impact of the illegal substances on the communities and launched a major awareness in the province last October.
Places considered hotspots around the province willingly organised their own surrenders and uprooting of marijuana plants and pledged their loyalty and support to the police to end the illegal practices.
Before the inception of the anti-drug campaign, Simbu was on the brink of collapse as steam and drugs heavily infested youths and ruled their daily activities.
The operation and awareness was fully backed by Members of Parliament from the province including Governor Fr John Garia, Kundiawa-Gembogl MP Joe Mek Teine and Kundiawa town mayor Teine Sogan.
Supt Tondop initiated the fight after realising drug and steam production and consumption in the province was growing rapidly.
The drug and homebrew death toll slowly increased and mentally retarded people started to flock the streets of Kundiawa town, marriage break-ups were on the rise, family moral and ethical values were being demoralised and people were not in their right frame of mind.
The major awareness began with the planting of Simbu’s sacred plant, tanget, by Supt Tondop, Fr Garia and Mr Sogan in front of the Kondom Agaundo Simbu provincial government headquarters.
The first anniversary marked the end of a successful year of the fight against illicit drug and homebrew that Supt Tondop spearheaded in Simbu.
More than 10,000 people braved the rain to embrace
the reinforcement of the fight against illicit drugs and homebrew.
School children and members of the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Christians provided colour to the occasion by marching through the streets of Kundiawa town with placards and banners depicting message against drugs and homebrew.
Dramas were performed that highlighted the effect that drugs and homebrew had on the body, especially to organs such as the liver, bladder, lungs and blood vessels.
Supt Tondop said the crime rate in Simbu had decreased by 75% since the launching of the campaign and although it was slowly climbing back up, he said the first anniversary of the campaign would help to decrease the trend again.
He said effort should be focused on development of the future generations to excel in progress for Simbu, adding that human resource was a prized asset and Simbu was at the crossroads with drugs and homebrew being its greatest obstacle.
He strongly appealed to Simbu’s Parliamentarians to invest in technical education for children, saying that technically-skilled manpower would be needed for the progress of Simbu and PNG.
“All MPs need to build technical schools in their respective districts because young schools leavers from Grades 10 and 12 will acquire basic life skills to enable them to be more useful members of their communities.
“Parliamentarians must legislate tough laws to counterattack drug and homebrew abusers,” he said.
“The escalating production and consumption of homebrew and marijuana in Simbu is now being curbed in a big way.
“Stakeholders across the province have strengthened their support for police to go into a major homebrew and drug (marijuana) operation,” Supt Tondop said.
He said major operations would continue from Miunde (Western Highlands border) to Magiro (Eatern Highlands border).
Supt Tondop said homebrew and marijuana problems were seriously affecting the active age population groups and before he arrived in Simbu, the production and use of steam and drugs had been rampant, adding that he took a bold stand to end the illegal substances in province.
Simbu Governor Fr John Garia said consuming steam and drugs would ruin the future generations of the province, and he encouraged young people to develop positive attitudes towards the future development of Simbu and PNG.
Other speakers also reiterated the messages of an illicit drug and homebrew-free Simbu.
The first anniversary attracted support from the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC), Nationwide Micro Bank, Correctional Services, Kundiawa General Hospital, Simbu provincial government, education division and business houses.