FORMER and current police who were deployed and served on active duties at the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea border during the Bougainville conflict claimed the government has been delaying to settle their long overdue duty allowances.
Speaking on behalf of the group, one of the former leading commanders in the group and current chairman of the Border Allowance claim committee, Oliver Twist Osi, said that successive governments had publicly made their commitment on the issue but since then no positive steps have been taken to address the issue once and for all.
The group has been making repeated calls on the government to honour its commitment to quickly address the issue to avoid any unwanted repercussions.
Mr Osi said that responsible government officers who are handling the claim and intended to play delay tactics on the issue must know that they are playing around with lives of human beings.
“The government must understand that if the issue is not handled properly, it could get out of hand one day,” Mr Osi said.
He added that this is something that we all don’t want to see happen but warned that people of this country ought to understand that we, the former officers have been patient for too long.
“It seemed though that responsible government officers have been taking advantage of our patience and pasts as disciplined officers of the government.
“This is something that will not go on forever,” he warned.
Mr Osi said that theirclaim is genuine but it is surprising that the issue had been raised to the government time and time again in the last 14 years.
However, he said in spite of successive governments’ knowledge of the issue; they continue to drag it on until now.
“Our group is quite concerned that a lot of our former colleague officers covered under the claim, had died leaving their wives and children struggling to make ends meet.
“This is sad and a worst thing that any responsible government can do to its former disciplined officers, who had given their lives and commitment to follow orders and carried out their duties diligently in such a volatile and dangerous situation.
“The latest on the issue as the group understands it was that, the cabinet has referred it back to the Attorney General to make amendments and rewrite the claim in a legal manner before presenting it back to the Cabinet for its final endorsement.
“The committee then met with the Attorney General on 8th April 2014 in which he shed Cabinet intentions on the issue and the task given to him by Cabinet to work on it.”
Mr Osi said that during their audience with the Attorney General, he confirmed a number of things relating to the issue and assured the committee of the government’s commitment on the claim and his given task to work on it and return it to cabinet for its final endorsement.
“The Attorney General said that the current government wishes to settle the claim before its term in office lapses later on this year.
“However, the group has become frustrated over what it now appears that the Attorney General is playing a delay tactic to drag on the issue.
“This was because attempts by members of the committee to follow up with him to ascertain its position since the last three months has been denied or avoided.”
Mr Osi said that the group is now very frustrated at the way the government is treating them without giving them proper information on their claim.
He said the group calls on the government to expedite its commitment to quickly settle the issue with them.
He added that as the government promised to settle the issue before its term in office lapses, it must act now as time and patience are running out and definitely “we do not accept further delay tactic by the government”.
– By Charles Fox Lemoa,