BY TAVAKE SIMON HANA’AROA
THE Royal Solomon Islands Police Force is looking at increasing police personnel at the common border with Papua New Guinea as Solomon Islands continues to protect its borders from the coronavirus (COVID-19) entering the country.
For the past months, RSIPF officers from Western and Choiseul Provinces including members of the Police Response Team (PRT) from Honiara have been manning the Solomon Islands side of the common border.
However, with the recent announcement of a confirmed case in Kokopo village, New Britain, which is close to Bougainville, and as well there are speculations of suspected cases in Bougainville, the RSIPF will be deploying its Police Response Team this coming weekend.
With only 15 personnel manning the border at this current time, Acting Police Commissioner Mostyn Mangau when speaking to the media said they are looking at increasing the presence of police officers at the border.
“Due to the recent announcement that a person from Kokopo village on PNG’s New Britain Island is now confirmed with COVID -19 and speculation of suspected cases in Bougainville, it has become a concern for our people on our side of the common border because of the closeness and easy movement of people from New Britain into Bougainville.
“Our PR team officers will be deployed on Saturday and Sunday by SolAir and a patrol boat will deploy on Monday.
“We are looking at increasing our number because the current number that we have at the western border is 15 so there will be increased maybe we are looking at doubling it,” the Acting Police Commissioner said.
In a previous press statement from RSIPF, the main intention of the deployment down to the common border with PNG is to enforce a high level of security to ensure a total ban on movement of outboard motors (OBMs) from both sides of the common border as a measure to avoid the COVID -19 reaching Solomon Islands’ shores through the common border.
The deployment to the common border region with PNG will include officers of the RSIPF and other law enforcement agencies like Immigration, Customs, Biosecurity and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.