PNG POLICE INCREASE PRESENCE ON DANGEROUS HIGHWAY

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Drunkenness, violence plague Okuk Highway

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 3, 2008) – Chimbu police have stepped up operations along the Okuk Highway in an attempt to keep it safe for the travelling public and trucking companies.

[PIR editor’s note: Chimbu Province is located in the highlands area of central Papua New Guinea. The Okuk highway begins in Lae and travels through the Markham Valley and the province of Morobe. A branch continues through the Ramu Valley in Madang Province and ends at the coast at the provincial capital of Madang. ]

The operation includes clamping down on production and consumption of homebrew, commonly known as "steam", marijuana and drunkards travelling along the highway.

The operation, which began on Friday night led by provincial police commander Joseph Todop, resulted in the confiscation of a home brew fermenting equipment and a homemade gun in Ku village outside Kundiawa town – sending a warning to other producers.

The confiscation followed the arrest of several young men partying in the middle of the highway with "steam.’’

Most of those partying were students who were home on holidays.

Superintendent Tondop said due to the recent landslips and poor road conditions along with the rise in consumption of homebrew and marijuana, the chances of holdups and other criminal activities were high.

"We’ve now looking at awareness campaigns, setting up operations to go to the villagers and uproot drugs and homebrew fermentation factories as wells as regular patrols along the highway,’’ he said.

He said the highway had to be safe and free to for those using it, adding the operation would continue for sometime.

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

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