Call for more police resourcing in PNG
The deputy leader of the PNG opposition says the government must step and re-house people in squatter settlements to end tribal clashes.
The deputy leader of the opposition in Papua New Guinea says the government has to overhaul its funding and resourcing of policing.
Sam Basil, who is the MP for Bulolo, told Don Wiseman regular incidents of tribal fighting in the district have a dramatic impact on the communities and under resourced local police cannot cope.
SAM BASIL: Since 1980s to 1990s, the services of the police has been declining.
DON WISEMAN: Are you saying there is actually a smaller police force now in the Bulolo area compared with a generation ago?
SB: Yes we have almost 120,000, 130,000 people and we only got 30 policemen in the district. The number doesn't seem very good at the moment in terms of the ratio that's promoted by the United Nations. We don't have that quota anymore. And I think this is a problem for PNG, not only manpower, but we also have disciplinary and operational problems and also the back-ups, they do not have fuel, they do not have vehicles, they do not have printers, they do not have papers to print, and all this so it's very bad. I think the government needs to really look at the whole situation.
DW: Immediately you want a state of emergency declared in the Bulolo area because of all these tribal clashes continuing?
SB: I think it's slowed down a little bit but what I would want now is the intervention of the provincial and the national government in terms of resettlement and you know we have to hold peace talks in terms of bringing all the parties together to negotiate resettlement for those affected victims. And not only that we do have a company like the PNG Forest Products that has been operating there. Most of the people that live in the settlement are also former employees of PNG Forest Products which is owned by Rimbunan Hijau and the PNG government owns 20 percent of it. They own many lands, and we also want them to make some land available and the national and the provincial government put some money and get some negotiators coming in to fix the problem. Because we just recently put some money, about 50,000 to solve the problem ourselves, but the problem is bigger than my own district would think of solving ourselves.
DW: And you say it's not something local MPs can do, it's something that has to be organised at the national level?
SB: Yes. I feel that if we asked the government I don't think it would come good because as you can see the Manam Island environment refugees are now at Bogia and the issue of resettling them and properly attending to them is not accorded by the government and if they do not do that nationwide I know that my cause will be ignored and my cause won't be attended to because the government has shown no interest in fixing our own internal issues.
DW: In your view, if nothing is done, what's going to happen?
SB: Well we will continue to have more crises in terms of the ethnic crisis. In the long run we won't have a good society to live in if this trend continues. Not only in Bulolo district, we do have it elsewhere and the government is not paying attention. And I believe that if we do not pay attention, we may build our society into a bad society, it's not livable.
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