Speaking in Parliament on Friday, the 5th of June, Agarobe suggested that growers and sellers should not be penalised.
The people of Central Province are the main suppliers of betelnut into the nation’s capital. Fighting for the livelihood of his people, Governor Agarobe called for the ban on betelnut to be lifted and for reckless and unhygienic chewers to be fined.
“We shouldn’t be crucifying or penalising the grower. The grower has nothing to do with this abuse of betelnut,” he stated.
“We should allow betelnut to continue to be sold. And the seller should be allowed to sell that but very high penalties should be placed on the chewer; this is the culprit.”
The Governor suggested that chewers should be allowed to buy the betelnut to take back to their place of residence or private space.
Police Minister Bryan Kramer said according to the Summary Offences (Amendment) Act 2018, the selling, buying and chewing of betelnut in public places is illegal under section 44B.
“A person who sells betelnut, buys betelnut, chews or spits betelnut juice in a public place is guilty of an offence. Penalty: A fine not exceeding K10,000 or imprisonment of a term not exceeding three years. That’s the law.”
Furthermore, the Minister outlined that section 44B, subsection 2 says the Minister may, by notice in the national gazette, declare an area in which betelnut may be sold and bought.
“It doesn’t say which Minister though,” Kramer added.
Kramer suggested for buai sellers to be licenced, and they should ensure their selling space is kept clean as the police force lacks manpower and logistics to enforce the law.