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The New Ireland provincial government held its PEC meeting on 16 June 2020 and has approved designated betelnut markets and control measures for sale of betel nut restricting chewing and spitting at public places.
The approvals will regulate and guide the already existing Betelnut policy under the New Ireland Betelnut Management Act 2013.
New Ireland will not ban Betel Nuts because they link with traditions and cultures, however it will restrict market sales at Urban centers, Towns, Public Transport, Shopping centres and Shops, Hospital, Offices, Parks, Public markets, Public road sides, Vacant State Land and Plantations. There will be total ban of betel nut chewing in all Government Offices.
The main Kavieng Town Market will have a total ban of Betel Nuts but sales to be done at Sivasat to cater for the Islanders, and Putput/Kaut junction markets for Boluminski Highway commuters, Konos and Pinikidu villages for the Konos business centre, Bopire and Punam markets for Namatanai town, Kunaiye and Lipuko markets for Lihir Island and Pigiput Bamboo and TI beach markets for Simberi Island.
Spot charges and fines will apply under the law which include K100 fine or serve community service work for chewing, spitting, and littering in unauthorized locations.
Other penalties cover drunkenness in public places, Public Disturbance and nuisance which also have a penalty of K100 or police charges.
More hefty fines of K500 or appropriate police charge will be slapped on those who assault a ranger or police officer, sell in unauthorized locations or build unauthorized structures within the Authorized zones to sell betelnut.
The respective Local Level Governments will assist to regulate and manage the betelnut markets within the designated areas.
The public have been urged to help police the law and report offences and can take photos of offenders and submit to the relevant LLG or Authority as evidence. All public transport that carry betelnut and sellers from the highway or boat operators have been advised that the only place to deliver the betelnut is as spelt out above.
The PEC approved the Police, Law and Order Sector and Security Firms/or LLG Rangers to support Police to enforce the Betelnut policy under the New Ireland Betelnut Management Act 2013.
“Betelnut is not our enemy, it is part of our culture, and we are not doing this to marginalize our people. This has come about because of the irresponsibility of many of our betelnut consumers who carelessly spit on public property with disregard to their fellow New Irelanders. We are striving for a smarter, healthier and cleaner New Ireland and these measures taken will ensure we get there. Betelnut will always be there, like it has always been for thousands of years and there is a time and place for it, but for now we must all take ownership of how we sell and dispose of it. Nothing stays the same we must all accept this fact, and embrace the change that is before us,” said Sir J.
If you fly Air Niugini or travel on passenger boats, the first thing you hear announced,
“ Smoking and Chewing of Betel Nuts will not be allowed”. People have observed this for over 20 years and My Government’s wish is the full co-operation of the New Ireland people to reduce possible spread of Corona Virus and other health issues.
“ Concluding Sir J said the law is only as good as the people who keep and enforce it and I look forward for a full co-operative spirit to reduce spread of diseases and virus. Keep our main towns clean and share pride in our cities and towns”.