Baki calls for Highlands Highway reopening

The Police Commissioner, Gary Baki, is appealing to relatives of the two slain police officers to allow the Highlands highway to be reopened immediately or else the bodies of the two slain police officers will be taken to Port Moresby for burial.

The Highlands Highway was closed off last week at Aviamp, Jiwaka and Chuave in Chimbu after relatives of the late Jimmy Golang of Jiwaka and Alex Kopa of Chimbu Provinces demanded compensation for their deaths.

In a statement, Baki said holding the State at ransom was not a responsible way to address the issue.

“We have not paid compensation in any form whatsoever for officers killed in the line of duty in the 128 year history of the Constabulary. This is simply unheard of,” said Baki.

“The relatives must understand that the late Goland and Kopa are not the only two policemen killed in the line of duty. Many policemen and policewomen have been killed in the line of duty over the year around the country and on Bougainville during the Bougainville Crisis.

“But we have not paid a single toea in compensation. Policemen and policewomen join the Constabulary on their own accord and sign an oath of office. There are no provisions for compensation should they be killed in the line of duty.

However, we as an organisation take care of funeral expenses of all members killed in the line of duty and ensure that their final entitlements are given to the immediate families of the slain members” Baki said.

The Commissioner added that he will not allow people to use the deaths of policemen for their own gain and cause inconvenience to the business community and travelling public.

He added that if the Highlands highway remains closed he will direct the bodies of both policeman to be removed from the Funeral Home in Goroka and taken to Port Moresby for burial.

“I will be sending Commander Highlands Western End, Assistant Commissioner, Nema Mondiai, to begin talks with the families of the slain policemen to find a way forward.

I appeal for the political leadership of Enga, Jiwaka, and Simbu to step in and discuss this issue at their level because after all these are their people” Baki said.

Cedric Patjole