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By Alison Anis

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 31, 2001 – The Independent)--Telikom will install a telephone line with six extensions free of charge at the Boroko police station for the public to call the police and pass on any information that may lead to the arrest of drug offenders.

Police Commissioner John Wakon made the statement yesterday while announcing the initiative taken by the Royal PNG Constabulary to participate in the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which falls on June 26 this year.

He said the launching of this major special operation throughout the country will coincide with the international observance.

"Our telephone operators will be on 24-hour roster on June 26 to receive incoming calls from informants throughout the country.

"The telephone number, 325-7600, will have six extensions manned by police and it is proudly sponsored by Telikom as a token of support towards our campaign," Mr. Wakon said.

He said all information passed on to the police will be treated as highly confidential and special police response units will respond promptly to the information supplied by the public through the free call telephone lines.

The operation will be coordinated by the constabulary’s national drug squad at the Boroko operations center and police operational units are expected to be on standby throughout the country to respond to information given by the public.

Mr. Wakon also voiced his concern about the rise in marijuana usage in the country and also highlighted its side effects, causes and what needs to be done to cut down on its use.

"The cultivation, trafficking and consumption of marijuana is rife in our country and it is having a destructive effect on the lives of our youth.

"The illicit drug abuse is fast becoming a deadly syndrome of addiction in our country and it is one that is detrimental to our nation’s future generations and sovereignty," Mr. Wakon said.

The streets of major cities like Port Moresby, Lae, Goroka, Mount Hagen and the other centers are said to have a lot of drug addicts who are loafing about aimlessly without any purpose in life.

He pointed out inadequate resources and manpower to effectively patrol the country’s vast geographical boundaries, rugged terrain and dense jungles as a "deficiency" that’s giving rise to widespread cultivation, illicit trafficking and consumption of cannabis in major towns.

Mr. Wakon said this "deadly syndrome" was destroying the lives of our youths, thus affecting the growth of PNG's integral human development.

"We are breeding a whole new generation of semi conscious human beings and therefore drastic measures need to be taken to alleviate the problem.

"There is an urgent need to seriously address the problem of illicit drug abuse in our country and that responsibility must come from all sectors of the community," Mr. Wakon said.

Parents should also accept the blame for not educating their children about the fundamental values in life, he said.

"The country’s law and order problems are attributed to peer pressure, lack of care and attention from parents and sometimes we find that youths engaged in criminal activities are daring because of the influence of illicit drugs," Mr. Wakon said.

It has come to a stage where total reprisal is needed by authorities in all levels of governance, including parents, church, organisations, councilors and every individual in all sectors of the community, he said.

Mr. Wakon also appealed to the media to assist in the campaign.

He said he believed that the police force and PNG’s media fraternity must work together as they have a special responsibility and obligation of saving this country from plunging further into the throes of this inexplicable strife.

Police officers from the community relations directorate will also visit at settlements, schools and shopping centers throughout the country to launch public awareness programs in the lead up to June 26.

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

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