Total Ban On Betel Nut Proposed For PNG Capital City

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Heavy fines considered for violating prohibitive rules

By Patrick Levo

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 2, 2013) – Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, is facing a total ban on betel nut in 2013 if the National Capital District Commission (NCDC) board has its way.

The commission is considering a blanket ban on all forms of vehicles, planes and boats ferrying betel nut into the city, surveillance at major roads and ports and heavy fines.

NCD Governor Powes Parkop announced the board’s intentions yesterday in a bid to clean up Port Moresby of rubbish created by betel nut waste, spittle and rubbish left behind by street vendors.

It costs the city authority millions to clean up betel nut filth and this has become a major concern since Mr. Parkop came to power five years ago.

But the moves by the NCDC board may have serious ramifications on many of the city’s unemployed who rely heavily on the betel nut trade to make ends meet for their families.

Governor Parkop said: "The NCD Board is seriously considering imposing stronger control of sale and chewing of betel nuts in the city in 2013.

"Despite all our efforts and appeals in the last four years, betel nut sales and chewing continue to be a menace and a health hazard in the city."

Mr. Parkop said while some residents and visitors to the nation’s capital have changed their attitude and are embracing NCDC’s effort to keep our city clean, hygienic and beautiful, many residents continue to be a hindrance to these noble development goals for the city and the people.

"This will not stop us from persevering in our endeavor to change the mindset and behavior of our people," he said.

"We will continue our attempt to change the behavior of our people until the majority, or ideally, all of our residents and visitors to the city see sense, give up their bad habits and join us to work towards a clean, hygienic and beautiful city.

"In addition to the steps we have been taking in the last few years to control sale and chewing of betel nuts in public places and spaces, the board of the commission will be considering the following additional measures:

In this respect, the NCDC board will consider the following fines or penalties:

Governor Parkop said the Board of the Commission will consider setting up a new department of the Commission to be responsible for enforcement of all laws and regulations that the Commission is responsible for policing, including litter laws, public health regulations, building board regulations, physical planning regulations and liquor laws and regulations.

He said the current NCD Reserve Police and Enforcement Division in Physical Planning Division of the Commission will be amalgamated and strengthened and adequately sourced to perform these responsibilities as well as assist police to maintain peace and security in public places and spaces. He said that up to now, the Commission has been hindered by its inability to enforce laws and regulations that it is empowered to police. This will change in the New Year.

"As Governor of our city and chairman of the Commission, I call on our residents and citizens to change their ways and embrace the visions and goals we have set for the city," Mr. Parkop said.

"They must understand and appreciate that we will never deviate or forgo these goals. Human behavior takes time to change and we will be patient but we will continue to persevere until our people change and help us to achieve these collective goals that are good for all of us.

"We recognize that betel nuts bring revenue to many members of our community, but the social, health and financial costs in dealing with the consequences are too high.

"As soon as the board of the Commission approves these new measures, they will be implemented as soon as possible," Governor Parkop said.

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