PNG border forces protest over money

4:31 pm on 29 May 2020

Soldiers and police deployed to Papua New Guinea's border with Indonesia have protested over unpaid allowances.

Indonesian military guard the border with Papua New Guinea at Wutung,

Indonesian military guard the border with Papua New Guinea at Wutung, Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Additional security personnel were sent to the border after it was closed in January to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The National reported a border post in PNG's West Sepik province was left unmanned for four hours on Wednesday, as police and soldiers protested at a local government office.

Opposition leader Belden Namah claimed they stormed the building but a soldier told the National the protest was peaceful.

"Many of our brothers from the police mobile squad were also flown in from Port Moresby and it is only fair that we are paid a risk allowance," he said.

"There is an increasing number of cases of across the border."

However, Chief of the defence force, Major General Gilbert Toropo, told the Post Courier that troops did not abandon the border post and only off duty personnel joined the protest.

A daily risk allowance of 45 PNG Kina ($US13) was being paid into the bank accounts of soldiers involved in Covid-19 operations, he said.

An investigation had been launched and those involved would be punished, Mr Toropo said.

Meanwhile, the State of Emergency Controller and Police Commissioner David Manning said risk allowances for security personnel were yet to be paid.

"We are still progressing payments, but they will be paid their allowances," Mr Manning said.

Earlier in May, police in Eastern Highlands province mounted a similar protest at a provincial government building in Goroka, demanding unpaid allowances from a Covid-19 operation.

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