Major improvements for border proposed

Major improvements, both infrastructural and capacity wise, are planned for the PNG-Indonesia Border at Wutung.

The improvements are part of the Government’s proposed West Sepik Special Economic Zone.

Developments planned for the border will ensure that major economic investments earmarked for the province are not derailed by border security issues.

National Planning Minister, Richard Maru, and delegates of the fact-finding mission to West Sepik travelled to Wutung to inspect the PNG-Indonesia Border Post on Tuesday.

Accompanying him were Minister for Inter-Government Relations, Kevin Isifu, who is responsible for border issues, and PNGDF Commander, Gilbert Toropo.

Minister Maru said with the proposed SEZ will to be complemented with improved border security.

“Apart from that (Special Economic Zone) we must also talk about the future security arrangements. Will you (PNGDF) be stationed in Vanimo or at Wutung?

“The Defence Force you have to tell us what you require. The Police you have to tell us what you require so we make sure we lock it in and fund it,” Maru said.

Commander Toropo stated that the current manpower size sits at 220 but they would like to see more, as well as more border posts.

“We’d like to see more permanent troops present. When we have the budget, we would like to also complement with technology in terms of surveillance, equipment that can provide surveillance where our troops are not present,” said Toropo.

“We’d like to maintain some permanent presence in Skouchu, Green River, Bewani and Tumulbil. These are the bases that we have plans in place to maintain permanent presence.”

Minister Maru, said there is interest by the police to deploy a dog unit in the area.

There is also interest by the PNGDF for a naval base to be established in Vanimo.

A technical team will be travelling to West Sepik soon to put together a comprehensive report into the current status of the border facilities and report to government.

Minister Maru is confident funding will be made available immediately to ensure the facilities are up and running properly.

Cedric Patjole