Port Moresby liquor ban already working, says Parkop
A week after the sale of liquor was heavily restricted in Port Moresby, the city's governor says it is already having a positive effect.
A week after a liquor ban was introduced in Papua New Guinea's capital, Port Moresby, the city's governor says it is already working.
Powes Parkop says the City District Licencing Committee introduced the ban in response to chronic lawlessness in the city that Mr Parkop says was largely caused as a result of alcohol.
He told Jamie Tahana that many bottle shops were breaking the law and selling to children as young as eight, and now liquor sales have been restricted to venues such as bars, taverns, hotels and restaurants.
POWES PARKOP: Public sales had become problematic for us to supervise and enforce the liquor licencing laws and the licenced operators were just abusing the laws by selling to just about anybody and on a 24/7 basis. Some of the problems we have faced in our city -- especially the recent confrontation between the military and police -- were sadly caused by alcohol abuse.
JAMIE TAHANA: OK, so just to get the mechanics of this clear, alcohol in Port Moresby is now restricted to just bars, hotels, clubs and taverns, etc.
PP: Yeah, and restaurants.
JT: And restaurants.
JT: OK, so...
PP: There's been some parts of the city where there is a ban on any form [of alcohol] and in those parts of the city it's been there for maybe three weeks or nearly a month. And there's general support for that in the community because a lot of alcohol abuse is a few individuals who cannot control alcohol and they create problems for everyone, so it's generally supported in those specific communities. In the city generally, as I said, there is a restriction and not a ban.
JT: Are the restrictions already having a visible effect on the rate of crime from, say, last weekend?
PP: Yeah, some of our communities like, say, Morauta, which is a suburb, and Eight Mile and Nine Mile, which is not a proper suburb, but like a settlement. The situation there is much better now and more peaceful and better in general than before the ban. So there are some positive outcomes but I know a ban and restriction is not a long-term solution, so we will work on the long-term solution.
JT: And what do you think that long-term solution may be?
PP: We have to educate our people so that their consumption is responsible and not abuse, and that's not going to happen overnight. I have to work with the major distillers and the industry generally and licensees so that we all take responsibility for this. It's probably something we should have done a long time ago but with the all the different challenges we face in our city we probably neglected this area for a while, but you know, the recent events demand that we must take on this particular challenge now.
JT: There has been some criticism from some areas, what do you say to those who say that this is unworkable, that if there's a will there's a way and people who have such desire will still be able to get alcohol or it might be pushed underground into a kind of black market.
PP: Yes, and as I said, it's not a long-term solution, it's only an interim solution. I have seen what has happened in the world, in the United States of America during the prohibition days with the growth of the Mafia, and we've seen it in other parts of our country where there is a liquor ban in some provinces in the Highlands, it's just pushed the activity underground and bootlegging increases and also illegal distilling and other drugs come onto the scene like marijuana and cocaine taking over from alcohol and so on. I accept those criticisms, we never for one moment suggested that it's a long-term solution.
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