Sunday, November 13, 2011

Everyone has failed on Eriku

Source: The National, Monday 07th November 2011


THE violence that erupted in Lae last Thursday, spilled over into Friday and was sustained in the settlements over the weekend was a long-time coming.
Do not take our word for it. Here is what the public has been saying in the letters section of The National for weeks.
Sh@Gz-Palace rep of Lae urged leaders of the Tutumang to shed light on how they are going to solve the problem on Nov 1.
“Let us do something about this before a state of emergency is placed on Eri­ku and that will be another story.” That “another story” may happen today.
Jake Ekaka of Port Moresby said: “Firstly, the culprits involved in these unlawful activities are a minority when compared to the vast majority of law-abiding citizens. Why don’t the good citizens mobilise and confront these few individuals? Resort to means and techniques that will drive fear into the hearts and minds of these anti-social elements so that they will think twice before carrying out their illegal activities.”
Concerned parent said: “Morobeans must stand up and eradicate these animals and all Lae workers should go on strike so the governor can see how unsafe it is for the people. I call on Luther Wenge to take a bus ride from town to Eriku and see first-hand how the city is like.” Good challenge that was never taken up.
Kalong Pulipilya of Lae suggested: “The number of police officers is not sufficient to control the city. Right now, they are stretched thinly. The street boys are aware of this and are capita­lising on the situation.”
Civilised person of Lae said on Oct 25: “On my way to work on board a PMV, I saw a group of youths robbing a young woman. On my way home in the evening, I saw a mother and her child being robbed. I call on the police to conduct foot patrols and set up a cop shop at Eriku.” There has been a cop shop in Eriku for a long time but, obviously, it is not visible to the people.
Iau Tar Tala Ngunm of Lae said: “I live in Eriku and I am sick of seeing petty crimes being committed seven days a week. The police need to do regular foot patrols. I suggest the authorities convert the public toilet into a police station as it is right in the centre of all the illegal activities.”
Mary in Lae said: “It is frustrating and scary for me as a woman to catch a PMV from Eriku to work. They are now grabbing shopping bags, bilums and stripping women of their clothes. I feel for us innocent women. I call on the acting police commissioner to do something about this.”
Diik3iiz said: “Don’t tell me the Lae metropolitan commander is not aware of what has been happening under his nose? It is time for a wholesale change of the Lae police. The men in blue, the governor and the Lae MP have been a letdown thus far.”
So it has been out there in the public domain for a long time before violence finally did erupt.
Without exception, the area of contention has been Eriku, that delightful little spot of historic significance, a cluster of supermarkets surrounded by residential developments, schools, club houses and playing fields.
There is no squatter settlement 2km in every direction from whence it might be expected that wayward youths might spring from.
Yet, this area has been the target of so much crime by a marauding mob which has grown so bold they refuse to budge from the area.
Many have been the call for action in this area alone but nothing happened until a frustrated public decided to take it upon themselves to protest. And as can be expected, that protest turned violent.
The police and the political leadership of the city must take much of the full blame for the riots of last week.
The new police commissioner and his minister yesterday could do or say nothing but admit that their commanders on the ground did not do enough.
The city government of Lord Mayor James Khay must shoulder part of the blame because law and
order within the city precincts are his responsibilities as well.
Problems often become problems only because those responsible neglect their duties repeatedly causing a simple matter to balloon out into a major issue.
As Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said yesterday, the police manpower shortfalls of today are the cumulative effective of many administration’s neglect of the force’s requirements. Nobody thought to increase the force’s strength in line with the growing population.
Likewise, a localised criminal problem in Eriku has become the entire city’s problem and now grabs national government attention and action, only because authorities on the ground, who are mandated to address the matter, have failed miserably to do so.

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