Frustrated Lae residents petition police

The residents of Lae in Morobe Province are already fed up with the ongoing petty crimes, especially at the main city bus stops.

Today, concerned members presented a petition to the Lae Metropolitan Superintendent, giving the law enforcers 14 days to respond to their demands.

A petition calling for immediate police action against petty criminals at bus stops was handed to the Lae Metropolitan Superintendent, Chris Kunyanban.

The petition had 712 signatures on paper, while social media support is still pouring in.

Raguel Kepas is among those heading the movement. He said the harassment and intimidation faced by women, men and even children is at an all-time high. They were forced to take action when a female relative had her phone snatched at the Town bus stop.

“Ol pulim foun blo ol na meri blo liklik blo mi kam lo lukim disla man na askim lo foun blo em, na man ya kirap na panshim em. Na em tok, ‘mi no kisim, yu lukim mi kisim?’ Em man we kisim na go ya, em bihainim em go askim na em kirap, panshim em.” (They snatched the women’s phone and when my in-law followed the suspect and asked for it, he turned around and punched her. He said ‘I didn’t get it, did you see me get it?’ He was the one who took the phone but when she followed after it, he punched her.)

Kepas said now is the time to act before the situation escalates and Lae city is forced into another lockdown, especially when the landowners retaliate.

After receiving the signed document, Chief Inspector Kunyanban highlighted the external factors that are contributing to the city’s lawlessness.

The first issue mentioned was overpopulation; where one police officer is serving 450 people.

Kunyanban said the 2011 census recorded 150,000 people in Lae. Nine years later, illegal settlements are mushrooming everywhere, stressing an already undermanned force.

“For example, yu lukluk lo Bumbu. Bumbu em generation after generation,” he stated. “Nau yu go daun, ol nogat speis lo stap. We’re having issues in between Bumbu now; ol man komplein lo nogat speis lo stap.”

Kunyanban further outlined that it is not the duty of the police to remove illegal squatters. They can only police them and remove them if the right documents are presented. Hence the next issue was the lack of collaboration between the RPNGC, Lae City Authority, the provincial government and other stakeholders.

The vision of a ‘Better Lae’ can only be achieved if everyone works together. And for residents, the police are asking them to refrain from buying items from the street vendors as this will only encourage them to crowd around the public venues to sell their goods.

(Residents are calling for the removal of petty criminals at city bus stops)

Carmella Gware