24 August 2020
Mostyn Mangau.

TWO communities along the border between Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Solomon Islands have offered their islands for free as part of boosting border patrol to prevent COVID-19 from entering our shores.

Police Commissioner Mostyn Mangau yesterday acknowledged the communities of Malaita Outer Island (MOI) and Siposae in Choiseul Province for offering their islands free of charge to the government to allow police and other government agencies to temporarily use them as a base to monitor border movement in light of the growing threat from COVID-19 across the border.

During yesterday’s talk-back show, Mr Mangau said police and other government agencies recently visited the communities of MOI and Choiseul Province to discuss with the leaders issues related to increased threat posed by COVID-19 along the border.

Following the successful discussions, leaders from the two communities have offered their support by allowing their islands to be used by government agencies.

As such, the police chief sincerely thanked the two communities for their overwhelming support to the government by offering their land.

“MOI leaders offer two of their islands along the border near Palau facing Tasman island in PNG.

“These islands have been offered free without any charge which will be used by government agencies to establish themselves on these islands to protect the border,” he said.

He said similar offer was made by Siposae community in Choiseul allowing government agencies to use their islands to provide security.

“This shows how the communities have responded positively to the call by the government for communities to support them (govt) in the fight against covid-19,” he said.

“I want to appreciate their understanding for the support,” he said.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the use of the land was signed between the government and community leaders of the two communities, Mr Mangau said.

He further appealed to communities and leaders of Shortland to also follow the example set by the two communities.

“I think communities of Shortland should also do the same thing,” he said.

Its understood Shortland is much closer to Bougainville and that is where most of the operations are based.

The police chief also took time to acknowledge leaders of Shortland for their support so far.

Mangau said security at the border has doubled with a total of 73 officers on the ground.

He said following his visit to the border last week, he has met with the officers are who doing a perfect job so far.

He calls on the provincial governments and communities to continue to support government in blocking COVID-19 from entering the country. 

He said Bougainville poses a risk and threat to the country because of a confirmed case and its close proximity to the country.

“We don’t know how they manage the case so its important to protect our border,” he said.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare more than a week ago 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 Ontong Java.

Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary of Finance McKinnie Dentana yesterday said his ministry continues to support the fight against COVID-19 by ensuring funds are released to the right agencies to support the cause.