PNG's capital considers betel nut licences for vendors
Papua New Guinea's National Capital District is considering introducing licences for betel nut vendors.
The governor of Papua New Guinea's National Capital District says he is considering introducing licences for betel nut vendors.
Powes Parkop recently enforced a ban on the sale of betel nut in Port Moresby as part of plans to clean up the city and clamp down on crime associated with betel nut sales and alcohol abuse.
Mr Parkop told Beverley Tse there is already a noticeable difference resulting from the ban.
POWES PARKOP: The streets are much cleaner and people who congregate or hang around street corners under the pretext of selling betel nuts are no longer there. One of the problems that that creates is it provides a convenient cover for petty criminals who prey on vulnerable people, especially women and girls, stealing their mobile phone or stealing their bags and so on or even carjacking. Now there's no hideaway for them anymore. So it also improves safety, especially in the pubic bus stops and the shopping malls and government institutions, offices and so on.
BEVERLEY TSE: And I understand that some members of the community in Port Moresby are actually helping police to identify people who have been trying to smuggle betel nut across the borders. Is that right?
PP: Oh, yes. There's some communities at the border who are helping our police. They are supportive of what we're doing. But, still, there's some trickle of betel nuts coming in. That is expected, but we will keep on checking the containers. At the end of the day it's not a riotous situation as it was before. But what I can say, too, Beverley, is that we've got a long-time plan that we are working on. What we are implementing now is a medium-term plan to firstly get the betel nut out of the city and then in the long term we might work on licencing and regulating it so that it becomes a controlled type of activity, rather than in the past when anybody could do it any time. The consequences were very dire for the city - for our health and for public expenses.
BT: And what's the time frame on that? When can betel nut vendors expect that some licencing system will be in place?
PP: Maybe about six months. I'm working with a potential private partner to manage it so that we have a real win-win outcome where maybe betel nut, down the line, if we introduce it back to the city, it will not at the public expense healthwise and consuming public funds to clean it up and so on. That's the outcome that I want. I'm not against people chewing. I just want them to chew responsibly and not leave problems for the public to pay for.
Powes Parkop says he is not backing down on the current ban on betel nut sales despite receiving a death threat following its introduction.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: