The Solomon Star was told that a 60 horse-powered (hp) ray boat from the Shortlands has been caught by the Gizo Police officers and Bio-security officer at the shores of Gizo.
A report reaching Bio-security Office in Gizo says that this is not the first time for betel-nut sellers from Shortland Islands to transport huge consignment of the product to Gizo.
They also went as far as Noro to sell the bags to local vendors there.
“This is becoming a normal practice now,” one eye-witness said.
Speaking to the paper on Friday, Western Province Bio-security Inspector, Nareti Bulehite said anybody that carries or transports plants or produce outside the country will be confiscated and destroyed.
“Anything that is from another country will not be allowed in the province and country as well.
“This can lead to new threats and harm to the plants and produce concerning the risks of transmission of infectious disease in crops, plants, livestock’s and quarantined pests,’’ Inspector Nareti said.
Take for example, the case of the beetles that already spoiled and harm our coconut trees and palm trees is an example, she stated.
She added that it is better to take action now before it gets worse.
“It is against our laws and obligations.
“People and citizens must abide by laws that were designed for the country,’’ she said.
Meanwhile, the Shortland Islander who transported the betel-nut bags to Gizo told this paper that this is his first attempt in transporting the product.
“This is my first time to sell in Gizo, with the understanding that there are many people that have also been practicing this for some years now.
“I do not know it was illegal until the Bio-security officials told me of the laws.
“It is unfair for me when letting the others go while I take the blame,’’ Joe Amenai said.
Mr Amenai also revealed that people from Shortlands usually traveled to small markets in Bougainville to buy the bags of betel-nut that costs the $30 Kina for a bag.
When they reach Gizo, they normally sold them to the betel-nut vendors for about SBD$100 for a bag.
Most have used the money to meet their children’s school fees and other basic family needs.
Meanwhile, the Western Province Bio-security urges all market vendors in the province to report anyone from another country that carries or transports plants and produces to report them to their office.