Gov’t agencies combine effort to curb betel nut-related issues in NCD
By Lucy Kapi
THREE key government agencies have combined efforts to enforce the NCD Betel Nut Control Law 2013. The collaboration includes the effective and efficient prosecution of offenders relating to the illegal and irresponsible use of the commodity. The National Capital District Commission, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) and the Department of Justice and Attorney General (DJAG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the enforcement of the NCD Betelnut Control Law on Monday 14, October, 2019. NCDC and DJAG were represented by their respective heads but for RPNGC ACP for NCD/ Central, Anthony Wagambie Junior stepped in for the Acting Commissioner who was out of town on official duties.
The event was witnessed by the country’s Chief Magistrate Mark Pupaka. The MOU means that offenders under the law will now be arrested, charged and prosecuted through the court process.
City Manager Bernard Kipit described the MOU as an important milestone for the Commission and thanked all agency representatives for their involvement in this significant initiative. The MOU was put together after views were gauged from a stakeholders’ consultative workshop in February this year.
It was later finalised in August by all stakeholders The signing also formalised the NCD Betel Nut Control Sectoral Committee’s (NCDBCSC) terms of Reference and the NCDC Strategic Plan 2019-2022 for implementation of the NCD Betel Nut Control Law.
Mr Kipit said the MOU is designed to formalise engagement and process re-alignments between RPNGC, DJAG (Village Court Land Mediation Secretariat) and NCDC with Offices of Public Prosecutor, Public Solicitor and Magisterial Service (District Court) to establish key functional roles in effective and efficient prosecution of municipal offences and appeals under the Act.
“This is a whole government approach towards enhancing capabilities for existing systems and processes to create alignments in an effective municipal mandate while at the same time maintain respect for independence of those respective constitutional offices,” the City Manager said.
Mr Kipit added that the MOU aims to achieve the development of a well-resourced and coordinated NCD Betel-nut Control Sectoral Committee to be able to effectively and efficiently discharge its mandate under the terms of reference to oversee due diligence in the execution the strategic plan. “The fully-supported operations should be able to detail a methodology for the manner by which the parties shall contribute towards establishing effective collaboration and partnership for enhancements in administration of existing legal process and systems in handling infringements, spot fines, community service options, prosecution, adjudication and enforcement of betel-nut offences at both the Village Court and District Court systems,” he said.
Mr Kipit elaborated that the MOU should also be able to detail a methodology for the manner by which the parties shall contribute towards development of a NCD Betel-nut control benchmarks and standards for overseeing of functionality of service delivery within the three electorates. The inaugural NCDBCSC will comprise the City Manager as the Chairperson with Acting Deputy City Manager for Community Social Services as his proxy, Deputy City Manager for Regulatory Services as a member and Manager Enforcement as proxy (NCDC); Executive Director VCLMS as a member and Manager VCLMS as the proxy (DJAG), Director Legal Service as a member and Officer in Charge of NCD Prosecutions as the proxy (RPNGC) while Registrar District Courts is a member and Manager Policy Planning is the proxy from the Magisterial Services (District Court).
DJAG Secretary Dr Kwa emphasised the importance of upholding the rule of law in any society and commended the Commission for the initiative. Dr Kwa also pointed out that respect is diminishing where people have disregard for public properties; therefore, such intervention is important.
He said law is introduced but people have lost respect, adding the law enforcers under the Law and Justice Sector have to come together to address this issue because the system has weakened. In committing the support of his department, Dr Kwa said a lot of people have complained about the NCDC Buai Ban and its effect on their livelihood, but the law has not come to burden the society but to regulate the people’s behaviour because they have not done so. Dr Kwa said his department will be using the operation of the NCD Betel nut Control Law under this MOU to test its effectiveness before they embark on enforcing the National Betel nut Law which was passed by Parliament recently. The Acting ACP for Central and the National Capital District, Anthony Wagambie Junior, who stood in for the Acting Police Commissioner, David Manning, said the RPNGC is happy to be part of this partnership with NCDC and the DJAG.
He said Commissioner Manning is concerned about the abuse of betel nut in the city, saying the millions of money NCDC spends annually to clean out this rubbish as a result of the poor attitude of the residents. He pledged the Constabulary’s support to NCDC to enforce the betel nut law, adding the police are ready to continue doing what they can. Chief Magistrate Pupaka reiterated that the Magisterial Services is also ready to support the Commission as the law is important and needs to be enforced in order to have a clean environment, peaceful and liveable city.