PNG police chief zeros in on liquor licensing after deadly clash

4:46 pm on 30 September 2019

Papua New Guinea's police commissioner wants alcohol licensing rules in the capital reviewed after two people were killed in fighting at a settlement.

Papua New Guinea police commissioner David Manning

Papua New Guinea police commissioner David Manning Photo: Supplied

David Manning said the violence occurred after police went into Port Moresby's Erima settlement after complaints about tuck shops illegally selling alcohol.

The commissioner said police encountered resistance and a fight broke out between members of the police unit and settlers.

Police reinforcements were called in to contain the situation, but in the process two members of the community were killed and a number of others were injured including policemen, residents and commuters.

Promising an investigation into the clash, Mr Manning directed some blame at alcohol consumption, raising concern at the proliferation of tuck shops which sell liquor in the capital.

Mr Manning said alcohol shouldn't be sold in settlements or residential areas.

"Liquor licences should not be given to everyone and should be restricted. It appears that almost all tucker shops within the NCD have liquor licences. Are these licences genuine?" Mr Manning said in a statement.

"I will call upon the NCDC (National Capital District Commission) to in the first instance revisit all the liquor licences given out so far with a view to cancelling those especially within residential areas.

"The sale of alcohol should be encouraged only at main shops, bars and restaurants and not in residential areas especially within the settlements."

Mr Manning and Police Minister Bryan Kramer visited the Erima community and urged them to allow free access to the travelling public.

The minister indicated some of the Erima community sought to use the dead bodies as a public protest and disturb traffic on a main road.

"But the bodies, they wanted to keep them out in the public, under the bridge. And I said no, you cannot keep dead bodies to display them as a basis for protest.

"Those bodies, they will now obviously become state evidence in investigations, so they need to be put into the morgue," Mr Kramer said.

The commissioner said the constabulary was "quite concerned about the general law and order situation" within the National Capital District.

According to him, the population of PNG's capital is around 1.2 million people and increasing rapidly as people from outer provinces migrate to the city.

"Unplanned settlements are increasing at an alarming rate and if not contained will pose a serious law and order challenge for the NCD police," Mr Manning said.

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