Home brew and alcohol is destroying our community

By Allan Bird | 05 December 2020.

Yesterday at 6am, the Labu Camp community was caught by surprise in an unwarranted attack. An innocent grandmother in her late 70s was attacked in a cowardly manner and killed, several houses were looted and burnt to the ground.

As the Labu Camp community were about to retaliate we managed to intervene. I am very grateful to the Labu family for deescalating the tension in Wewak yesterday as Police and Army units eventually responded.

Trucks from Angoram were targeted and damaged.

About a week ago a group of drunk young men had a fight which resulted in the death of a young man from Angoram. The Labu community promptly rounded up four suspects and handed them to police as police investigation continued. The relatives of the deceased which included 2 ward members organized their community in yesterday’s attacks. Four people, including the two ward members were apprehended by Police yesterday.

As we see a rise in criminal activity in our province and with only around 140 active police personnel to respond we are overwhelmed. With a population of close to 800,000 people in our region, this is not enough policemen.

We need community help. We need our young men to drink less alcohol and to be more productive. We need to resolve differences without violence.

We need to be patient as Police do their work. We cannot take the law into our own hands. Even if Police and the Courts are slow. They are overwhelmed with so many issues.

Our efforts in the following areas are still on going:

1. Construct a 45 man Police Barracks at Boram, Wewak. ESPG has already committed K2.7m for this effort.

2. Support Maprik DDA to build a second 45 man Barracks in Maprik. K700,000 has been allocated for that effort and more will be allocated in the future.

3. Reactivate the defunct Liquor Board to start regulating Liquor sales. Act on home brew alcohol.

4. Commence discussions with Wewak landowners to relocate and remove settlements from Wewak.

5. Encourage young people to get involved in cocoa growing and other productive activities.

6. Increase sports funding to create new pathways for young people. This year we have committed K2m to the upgrade of playing facilities in Wewak. K1.7m remains. Work was slow this year due to COVID19. Next year we intend to upgrade Maprik Sports facilities as well with K1m already earmarked. Our recurrent sports funding will increase from the current K500,000 to K1m in 2021.

7. Deserving young people to be selected to participate in the Labor Mobility Scheme.

In the meantime I appeal to all educated Sepiks to help by speaking to the young people in your communities. We need your help. As you can see, despite all these efforts, community and church leaders need to be more involved. We have seen much success in efforts by Bishop Joe and the Catholic church in Smain/Makopin.

Yesterday with the help of Hon John Simon we also launched the Agmark Sepik Nines. We hope sports can be a useful tool in reducing crime and violence.

Hon Salio Waipo and I also opened the Samban Maternity clinic in Angoram with Digicel Foundation. We thank Digicel for the partnership of K50,000. ESPG has committed K200,000 to support the clinic and the school in this amazing community.

It was a very busy day yesterday which started tragically in Wewak and ended so positively at Samban, Angoram.

I am so grateful to Hon Simon and Hon Waipo for the assist yesterday.


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