PNG OPPOSITION SAYS GOVERNMENT HAS NO SOLUTION TO CRIME

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Sir Mekere Morauta: They ‘have no long-term plans’

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, April 7, 2009) – Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta says the Somare Government has offered no real solution to the increasing law and order problems in the country.

Sir Mekere said this after learning of the escalating law and order problems in the Porgera area of Enga province, which had seen people getting killed, innocent people attacked, schools disrupted and businesses destroyed.

Porgera is home to the giant Porgera gold mine, and has contributed significantly to the economic growth of Enga province and PNG.

But law and order problems in the surrounding area, including rampant illegal mining, have been on the rise, creating an environment of grave concern to the mine operators and local leaders.

Sir Mekere said it was clear the Government had no long-term plans to address law and order and their root causes, not just in Porgera but elsewhere in PNG.

"The Somare Government seemed to have calculated a knee-jerk approach to law and order issues, expensive state of emergency exercises that benefit a select few.

"States of emergencies are ineffective and offer no real lasting solutions to the problems.

"It is a short-term band aid approach that is only good while the money to pay allowances, hire vehicles and pay for fuel lasts; the Porgera community and its law abiding people do not need this," Sir Mekere said.

"What they need is a comprehensive, long-term solution to the law and order problems and other social issues that fan these problems.

"The Government must provide the money to build a police station and a barracks to increase police presence in Porgera.

"Use the K5 million [US$1.8 million] to buy them vehicles and improve their communication facilities.

"A state of emergency will last for a few weeks while the K5 million lasts, and benefit only a few," he added.

He said what the Government needed to do was extend community policing to Porgera, equip locals and provide them with the resources to assist in maintaining law and order, and also carry out awareness programmes similar to those that had been successful in other areas of PNG.

A comprehensive response to address the issues there would last longer, and would benefit everyone, Sir Mekere said.

"Continuous and increasing law and order problems at a mine site gives a very negative impression to investors.

"The picture gets worse when the Government offers no constructive long-term solution to these problems.

"Where would the country head if investors already in the country, and those with big investment plans for PNG like the LNG project, decide to pack up and leave because their security could not be guaranteed?

"Who do we blame?" Sir Mekere asked

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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