FOREIGN LOGGING SHIPS FUEL ILLICIT TRADE IN PNG

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Guns, cigarettes among booty

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 22, 2008) – Guns are brought into the country in logging ships and exchanged with locals for money and animal species in the country.

This was revealed by a project officer in Kikori, Gulf Province yesterday while listing the items confiscated by the Internal Revenue Commission team from a Chinese logging ship bound for Kikori.

[PIR editor’s note: Gulf Province is a province of Papua New Guinea located on the southern coast. The provincial capital is Kerema. The Kikiori, Turama, Purari and Vaiala rivers all meet the sea known as the Papuan Gulf. It is home to one of the world's densest, most wildlife-rich mountain rain forests. It is threatened by over-logging. ]

The officer, Max Malau, who has several health projects in Kikori and who travels there frequently, said the items like liquor, cigarettes, fertilisers, speakers, DVD players and pornographic materials were bound for Kikori where trading took place.

"The crew member of Chinese logging ship MV Yang Yuan lied when they said they had no clue of the items in the ship," Mr Malau said.

He said crewmembers were commonly bringing these items to trade with the locals at the Paia inlet in Kikori where the ship loaded logs.

"The locals give the Chinese animals like cassowaries, cuscus, birds, possums, deers and other materials in exchange for things like alcohol, cigarettes, pornographic materials, speakers, DVDs and possibly guns," Mr Malau said.

He said the deals for guns were more secretive but there was enough information to suggest such activity was rife.

Mr Malau asked the Government and the IRC Customs division to closely monitor and carefully check the logging ships when they came in and went out of the country.

He acknowledged the IRC officers for "a job well done’’ and asked the Kerema police to do the same at their end.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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