PNG Village Urges Governor To Reconsider Betelnut Ban

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Parkop petitioned for alternatives to outright ban on sales

By Kevin Teme

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 30, 2013) – One of the major betelnut cultivating villages in Papua New Guinea’s Central Province, Mekeo, has petitioned National Capital District (NCD) Governor Powes Parkop to reconsider his proposed ban on betelnut starting tomorrow.

Mr. Parkop went to Aipeana village in Mekeo last Friday to receive the petition made by the people to rescind his decision or provide better alternative for the people of Central and Gulf to continue on their trade of betelnut.

They wanted Mr. Parkop to allow the people of Central and Gulf to transport their betelnut to other regions like in the Highlands through air transport as well as by road and sea and are asking the governor to provide security as their main concern on the proposed venues set for the betelnut trade.

"We do support you on the betelnut ban but it is not the people of Central (Mekeo) doing that. We depend on buai and that doesn’t mean Mekeo people are lazy," said Paul Aisa, a Aiepeana villager.

"I think the problem is other people from the other regions that have settled in Port Moresby are doing that. For us, it has been a long standing in our culture and tradition and it will be difficult for us to stop. But my good governor if you can allow us to trade or provide alternative venues for us, we will be happy."

"The place you are setting up now at Rubirogo is you are giving the Mekeo people to the dogs and pigs.

"Find a better place for us to trade our buai and it is the demand of the 30,000 people of Mekeo. We want you to stop the ban or delay the ban."

But Parkop has stood firm in his decision to ban betelnut considering avenues for the people in Central and Gulf Provinces on some alternatives.

One of the alternatives was to allow the Central and Gulf people to continue with their betelnut trade but they must have betelnut permits, a law that will be passed by the NCD Commission soon.

"There are some decisions that are hard to make but has to be made for the collective benefit of our people and this is one such decision. If there was an easy way and other better option, I would have taken that but unfortunately there is no other or easier option," Mr. Parkop said.

"I believe the option we are taking would naturally be resisted by some sectors of the public but if allowed, they would realise that it can work so I call on you people to allow me to go ahead with this proposals to relocate the sale of betelnut outside the city. Those who are opposing the decision to mobilise their money to engage lawyers to take me to court will only benefit the lawyers.

"They should show good will and their care and concern for the welfare and image of the city by mobilising their time and resource instead to clean the city on a voluntary basis for five to six months.

"Such goodwill on their part might compel us at the commission to revisit our strategy.

"The ban will go ahead but we will not start implementing the penalties yet. We will go into intense awareness as requested by our Mekeo people and then start imposing the penalties at the end of October.

"We will also publish the law and invite any objection to them to be made within 14 days and we will ensure the law is gazette in the National Gazette, especially the declaration and enforcement and exemptions powers and finally we will start enforcing the no spitting and littering in the public place aspect of the law as soon as possible."

"The people of Aiepeana and Mekeo, we will allow or extend time for you but for the city people, we had given them enough time and there will be no more be excuses and the ban will go ahead as planned on October 1."

The governor will give its final decision to the people of Mekeo regarding their petition and submission today.

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