The team looked into logging camps and business houses in New Ireland last week, where they charged 30 individuals for breaches in their visa and work permits.
The acting provincial administrator at the time, Moses Taram, said the state team, comprising officers from Immigration, Labour and the Police, found that up to 80 percent of the foreign workers did not comply with the provisions of their work permits, while others did not have customs clearance to work in Papua New Guinea.
Taram said the team went to Kumin, Muliama and Karu logging camps and inspected business houses in Namatanai, Konos and Kavieng, and recorded the abuses by the logging companies and businesses.
“Thirty workers from the logging camps were rounded up and taken to Namatanai where they were fully processed and immediately fined for various breaches to their entry visas and engagements that were contrary to their work permits,” stated Taram.
“This was a covert operation that clearly shows that many foreigners, especially at the logging sites, have entered the province illegally through foreign bound vessels and others are on jobs that do not match descriptions in their work permits and still others were not licensed for the tasks they are doing in the camps.”
Taram said the state investigation team also found that a lot of vehicles being run at the logging camps are without customs clearance, which means that they were shipped directly to the logging sites without being declared to customs authorities and many of the foreign operators did not have operating licenses.
Due to bad weather, the team aborted their travel itinerary to Bagatare in Tikana Council, and Lavongai and Murat Councils but they will return to complete their inspections.
Taram said logging companies have been in the Government’s bad books relating to their expansion into customary lands and the bitter clashes with landowners.
“I am the chairman of the Provincial Forest Enforcement Unit, tasked by the New Ireland Government to investigate reports of illegal logging and help the landowners stand on their rights to fight these logging conglomerates, especially in the Konoagil and Sentral Niu Ailan Council areas.
“State authorities must take the next step and fully investigate further into the forest industry and take corrective measures against agents in the logging industry that flout the system and abuse the citizens of Papua New Guinea.”