I have written on numerous posts on my blog on betel nut and its effect on health and environment.
The governor of Port Moresby, Governor Powes Parkop has made an announcement that the buying and selling of betel nut will be banned in Port Moresby city limits by October 1st 2013. There will only be designated markets and sites for buyers and sellers.
While I applaud this announcement several issues need to be considered from previous experiences:
1. How will be the policing be done? How will buyers and sellers be monitored and be regulated? I cannot imagine the police force being involved as their plates are already full! Late Bill Skate, former Port Moresby Governor tried introducing “City Rangers” who went around the city trying to control the littering and selling of items in non-designated areas. This approach was met with resistance from the sellers and general public and there were even instances of physical clashes.
2. Why not formalise the buying and selling of betel nut? Betel nut is already on the radar of Bank of PNG. I am told the price of betel nut is the only market food the central Bank of PNG uses to monitor and track fluctuations in the Consumer Price Index in PNG.
3. No mention of the chewers! The chewing of betel nut should also be regulated. Chewing should be banned in public areas. Or those caught “chewing” betel nut (either caught with the quid in their mouth or in pocession of betel nut) in non-designated sites should also be made to pay spot fines or charged and do community cleaning service in the city. Port Moresby city needs a very good clean up.
Currently the chewers, buyers and sellers do not seem to be alarmed at the notice being issued and it is business as usual.