PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Dec. 28, 2011) - On Christmas Day in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG) many families took to the parks and beaches after church service to spend the rest of Sunday.

At Gabutu, it was the same like at every other recreation spot in the city. As the families were enjoying their day out in the sun and sea, at a residence up the road, loud Christmas music was playing and from the noise, it was obvious that a drinking party was in progress. From the recreation area below, one could clearly see that a man in Santa Claus dress was into the thick of things.

Such was the celebrations in many homes and places in the nation’s capital on the Christmas weekend. Because the city is big, what people saw in their own community was not to be the same as in other parts of the city or on the roads but we are told that there were several casualties including two deaths and four life threatening injuries that were admitted to the Port Moresby General Hospital last weekend. These were from road accidents or drunken brawls around the city.

Dr Sam Yockopua is the head of the accident and emergency department of the Port Moresby General Hospital and he thought this Christmas was the bloodiest, when compared to the previous Christmas celebrations in the city. All the admissions were patients who were intoxicated.

The high toll has put a lot of pressure on the hospital and we are not surprised that Dr Yockopua has called for a total ban on alcohol during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

We know there are people out there who will laugh at Dr Yockopua’s call. There will be others who will wholeheartedly agree with him. We expect this division in the community.

We are aware that while shops in the city do shut down their liquor shops during Christmas weekend, the liquor outlets in settlements as well as night clubs offload huge volumes of alcohol to those who are partying. In supporting Dr Yockopua’s call, we suggest that restrictions be placed on the sale of alcohol during the festive season. This is because there are many people in our communities that are not handling alcohol well and until such time when they are able to consume their alcohol moderately, this ban must take immediate effect.

We are of the view that in Port Moresby, all bottle shops and liquor outlets must be closed while night clubs should shut down at midnight and licensed restaurants should be allowed to sell alcohol with food. Those who do not adhere should lose their licences.

In the city today, people can buy alcohol at any odd hour in many parts of the city. Everyone knows that and the police know this too, and are even aware of these places but they are not doing anything about this. Even policemen and women are into bootlegging alcohol. This is wrong and police must move on these illegal traders, not only this Christmas and New Year period but at all times.

Just look at what happened in Lae this Christmas weekend. The industrial hub of PNG, for the first time ever, enjoyed the most peaceful Christmas this weekend. This is because there is a liquor ban in force in that city.

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