A controversial public ban on betel nut in Papua New Guinea's capital Port Moresby has been lifted.
The National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop, who introduced the ban in a bid to clean up Port Moresby's streets three years ago, has announced the ban has been lifted.
He has given clearance to vendors to return to selling betelnut from their streetside stalls, warning police not to go around the city impeding the daily business of vendors.
Mr Parkop said he had received reports of police officers harassing and attacking betel nut sellers, indicating they had overstepped their former mandate to enforce the ban.
The ban on public sale and consumption of PNG's favourite stimulant has been unpopular as it disrupted a common source of livelihood for grassroots vendors.
People kept on buying and chewing betel nut anyway.
The ban drove the sale of betel nut in Port Moresby underground and the price of "buai" sky-high, while introducing significant perils for those looking to smuggle it into the capital from neighbouring provinces.
There have also been a number of deaths attributed to enforcement of the ban, most notably when two betel nut vendors died in Hanuabada in early 2015 after police reservists enforcing the ban saw fit to fire on a crowd.
However the ban succeeded in effecting a noticeable change on the streets and pavements of Moresby - the formerly ubiquitous red stains of betelnut spit have largely disappeared in many parts of the city.
In 2014, Mr Parkop told RNZI that he had implemented the ban in an effort to change outdated civic attitudes and to address a clear health hazard.
But he admitted it wasn't easy to stand up to a cultural institution.
"Sometimes I think maybe I should have chosen another battle ground to get our people to change and not take head on a betelnut ban," he reflected.
Some observers say that Mr Parkop's move to lift the ban is an attempt to lure votes ahead of next month's general elections.
However late last year, the Governor was already changing his strategy on betel nut.
In September, the National Capital District administration relaxed restrictions on people supplying and selling betel nut, although the total ban remained on chewing it in public.
Yet enforcement of the ban had since spiralled out of control, and Mr Parkop has seen reason to lift the ban totallly.
He told local media this week that incidents of police attacking innocent vendors and others were proliferating.
"I don't understand the rationale for this action, there is no authorisation from my office to carry out such operations by police in the city, whether its betel nut vendors or anybody else," he said.
With that, the Governor lifted the ban in total, and buai is fully back in business.