THE Royal Solomon Islands Police Force’s (RSIPF) presence at the border has increased to 73 officers from 58 to patrol and police the international border between the Solomon Islands and Bougainville in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said in his weekly nationwide address yesterday.
He said that having a positive case in Bougainville calls for a greater step up in our border management efforts.
“As of today (Monday), we have increased our presence at the borders to 73 officers. We have sent down an additional 15 officers which include the Police Response Team (PRT) and the Provincial Response Unit (PRU),” Sogavare announced.
He also said that the police force in partnership with health authorities have deployed additional personnel and the necessary equipment to the border areas to work closely with all provincial authorities and community leaders at the western border starting last week.
He further stressed that strict control measures to prevent border crossings to and from both sides of the border are necessary.
“This is to ensure we prevent the entry of COVID-19 into the Solomon Islands in light of the situation in neighbouring Bougainville,” he said.
It was understood that on Friday Sogavare signed the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (Emergency Zone) (Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea Border) Order 2020.
This order declared an emergency zone along the western border running from Shortland through Choiseul to Ongtong Java.
Sogavare continues to appeal to the people along the western borders to cooperate with the government agencies and assist them in protecting our borders.
“The people and the government need your support more than ever before.
“It is my deep conviction that if we are united and we continue to work together we can keep the virus out from entering our borders.
“This is our fight. We are in this together and together we can prevail,” Sogavare appealed.
Meanwhile, the government is currently stepping up its multi-sectoral agency response and preparedness activities in Shortland Islands, Choiseul, and the Malaita Outer Islands.
By ANDREW FANASIA