On the part of NCDC we have spent millions of Kina policing the Ban. On the part of the producers in Gulf and Central provinces, they have suffered loss in profit from the sale. Smugglers have also lost life attempting to swim the Laloki River loaded with betelnut bags and some are reported to have been lost at sea at the hands of pirates while trying to smuggle in betelnut by sea.
We all grieve and regret the loss of lives including the recent grandmother who lost her life tragically in Hohola. The picture of her grandson grieving at her side brings tears to all our eyes and demand those of us who make such decisions to search deep into our conscious the merit of the decisions we make. I assure the relatives of the deceased that if our reserve police committed any criminal wrong they will be referred to the Police for Criminal prosecution.
As the main person advocating the ban I assure the public and the relatives of the deceased that such tragic loss has placed me in a moral dilemma as to whether to continue the ban or abandon it.
It would be easy for me and NCDC to abandon the ban but what would that mean?
Would it bring a better city than before.
Would it reduce the expenses that we spend on cleaning the city and policing the sale of betelnuts in the city?
Would it reduce the rates of people contracting mouth cancer as a result of chewing betelnuts? Would it reduce the rates of people contracting TB as a result of chewers spitting all over the city? Would city residents willingly and voluntarily keep our city clean and hygienic if we abandon the Ban?
Yes, the cost of policing and enforcing the ban has been high. The lives lost are tragic and regrettable but the cost of not doing anything or abandoning the ban would be higher in future.
If we abandon the ban now, all the sacrifice would be in vain because the city will get back to where it was before the ban or even worse. The costs of stopping the filth and have people die from cancer and TB would also increase in the future if we abandon the ban now.
Some decisions are not easy to make but have to be made for the benefit of all our people into the future. The residents of our city especially the vendors and chewers have an opportunity to show that they care for our city, our health and our welfare when we soon move to licencing sales of betelnut in the city.
We offer our condolence to the relatives of all those who have died since the ban began. We ask all city residents to also search their soul and consciousness over these deaths.
The ban is only in place because of their irresponsible behaviours. The public who vends and chew irresponsibly are responsible for the ban. If they change, the ban can be lifted.
In the meantime the ban will be maintained while we transit to licensing.
Let us all share and carry the moral dilemma that those deaths have placed in us and work for a better tomorrow for our city and our people.