FIGHT AGAINST EAST NEW BRITAIN "JUNGLE JUICE" BREWERS MAKES

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (February 1, 2001 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Local governments in East New Britain have succeeded in their fight against illegal brewing of "jungle juice," commonly referred to as "yawa."

On Monday, Ranguna villagers in the Raluana Local-Level Government (LLG) area of Kokopo surrendered implements used for brewing the yawa.

In other areas, councilors are using police in a joint effort to stamp out the illegal practice.

Police and local governments have joined forces in an effort to weed out the making of yawa because of concern about the rise in social disorder, mainly in villages, which police said is directly related to the consumption of the home brew.

A major project was carried out during the Christmas and New Year period, resulting in many people being arrested, charged and slapped with hefty court fines.

The police and the Provincial Liquor Licensing Commission last week witnessed a similar surrender at Bitagapuk in the Toma/Vunadidir LLG. Raluana local government president James Agi said Monday’s surrender was a major break through in an area renowned for making yawa.

He said this was possible because of the joint effort by the local government, the church, councilors, and the community.

According to him, 46 people from Tinganalom, Kunakunai and Rawat were arrested and charged during the Christmas and New Year operation.

But he said the local government and village leaders felt that using police would not completely solve the problem. It should be the local governments, village leaders and the community themselves taking the responsibility to solve the problem. Mr. Agi said using the police would not help anybody, as it would more likely encourage the villagers to continue with the illegal activity.

"This is a major break through and I commend councilors from Kunakunai, Ranguna, the churches and the community for their efforts," he said.

"It is my hope that the people now honor their commitment and do not engage again in this illegal practice.

"It is not only contributing to break down in law and order in the communities, but it also poses a serious health risk to those who consume the jungle juice," Mr. Agi said.

Ranguna councilor John Robin was happy but reserved at the same time.

He said he was happy that the people have finally decided to give up the practice that had become a part of their life for more than 10 years. But he said it would require constant monitoring to ensure the people did not return to the illegal activity.

He attributed the recent rise in home brewing practice to the low prices in the copra and cocoa, a view shared by the village brewers.

The Provincial Liquor Licensing Inspector Patrick Robin commended the Raluana LLG but said the problem would not have grown had public servants, especially health workers educated the people about the effects of the home brew.

He said he was happy that something was being done to get rid of home brewing of yawa in the province because research conducted on the effects of the home brew described it as dangerous to human life.

He said the Provincial Liquor Commission did not have the manpower to monitor and prevent the illegal home brewing of liquor and welcomed the efforts of the LLGs and other community leaders.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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