5 Dec 2002

Police pullout in PNG's New Ireland province could lead to people getting killed

5:42 pm on 5 December 2002

In Papua New Guinea, the businesses in New Ireland's provincial capital Kavieng fear that the withdrawal of police from the township has sparked a crime wave and could lead to people getting killed.

The Chairman of the New Ireland Chamber of Commerce, Peter McEwan says in the space of two days, two robberies including one involving 54 people stealing up to 200, 000 kina worth of goods from a major hardware store have occurred.

The robberies happened after Kavieng's 30 police officers stood down from their duties on Monday, after the health department condemned the entire police station, including cells and living quarters.

The officers are waiting to be transferred to other provinces as they no longer have any facilities to work from or live in.

Mr McEwan says many of the business owners in Kavieng have guns and have said that they will use them for protection.

He says if the police do not quickly return to Kavieng it is likely that people will get killed.

"If this is allowed to continue where is it going to stop, also the business houses have a right to protect their property and some of them have licenses to carry firearms and unfortunately someone will get killed"

Mr McEwan says the provincial government should not have let the police facilities decline to the point of condemnation and that priority must be given to restoring the buildings in order to guarantee police presence in Kavieng.