PNG Post Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 21) – The march by the people of Vanimo protesting against the opening of the highway linking Jayapura (Papua, Indonesia) and Vanimo (Papua New Guinea) should be taken seriously.

While the highway may bring benefits to people on both sides of the Papua New Guinea/Indonesia border, the people of Vanimo see major social problems increasing as a result.

They are concerned that Papua New Guinea does not seem prepared and ready to handle the influx of visitors passing through the border post at Wutung onto the Papua New Guinea side.

The opening of the highway could cause far more serious problems for Papua New Guinea as a new wave of illegal immigrants could be passing through the border post and then disappearing into Papua New Guinea like others have done in the past.

Papua New Guinea (PNG) needs to provide the infrastructure and staff to secure the border post and provide quarantine, immigration, customs, police, defense force, taxation and other services needed to ensure strict compliance with PNG laws by anyone wishing to enter PNG.

The Government should not rush into any opening ceremony until all required services and manpower are ready to administer movements across the common border.

It should also ensure the people of West Sepik, the churches, women’s groups and the youths clearly understand the full implications of opening up their border town to visitors from the Indonesian side.

The opening of links between the two countries needs to be carefully done to ensure the common border does not become a transit point for trans-national criminal activities such as human smuggling, drugs and guns trafficking, prostitution, and importation of illegal products into PNG.

This is why it is critical that PNG has adequate staff and resources at the border post to deal with all types of situations that may occur once the road link is officially opened.

The march in Vanimo this week ended with a petition being given to the Governor Carlos Yuni to give to the Prime Minister. The people of Vanimo are awaiting the response from the Prime Minister. Until that is received, no plans should be made to open the highway.

Governments can make plans.

But they should listen to the views of the people who will ultimately be affected by the highway.

The little town of Vanimo could experience a new wave of immigrants and the importation of goods that may not be necessarily good for them.

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