The National, Thuresday 12th January 2012
By GABRIEL LAHOC
SOME people in Lae are unhappy with the re-emergence of street sellers who are slowly returning to bus stops and public places.
It becomes a concern because this is exactly what led to the unrest and violence in the city late last year – youths selling goods on the streets and harassing people at the bus stops and public areas.
The declaration of Lae city as a ‘fighting zone’ ends this month.
Police in the city said the situation in Lae “is generally all right”.
But some residents are airing their views on the social network, Facebook, while some have gone to other media outlets.
Many are questioning whether the Morobe provincial government, the Lae police command and Lae City Authority are seriously addressing this latest development.
Several residents, who were interviewed, recalled separate incidents of bag-snatching and drunks behaving badly at Eriku, the shopping centre that was declared the most dangerous public place in Lae before the uprising by Morobean youths that led to ethnic violence against Highlanders living there.
Lae metropolitan commander Supt Nema Mondiai said matters of concern reported to police had dramatically decreased after Lae was declared a fighting zone last November.
He said this was evident from the police occurrences book which was updated every day.
Mondiai said generally, there had been a decline in people loitering, selling in the streets, drinking and general thuggery.
“As far as we know the situation is not too bad,” he said.
Mondiai said while people had the right to go to the media, they should report to police
who relied on official reports before acting on them.
He cautioned the media not to sensationalise minor issues in the wake of what happened last November when five people died in the violence.
“I thank the Lae media for its coverage so far, but I will really appreciate responsible reporting to have information cross-checked with the police,” he said.
Mondiai said only local police were enforcing the fighting zone declaration and the ban on alcohol following the withdrawal of police reinforcements on Dec 9.
The declaration of a fighting zone in the city would be reviewed by the provincial peace and good order committee shortly and the alcohol ban would be dealt with by the provincial executive council.