Police switch to high alert mode as city in lockdown
HONIARA city was in total lockdown at around 1:30pm yesterday as police scramble to thwart what was rumoured to be another riot.
Quick reaction from police secured the city although panic has forced businesses and offices to close doors as early as 2pm.
At around 1:30pm, two choppers and police vehicles scrambled and left the RAMSI base at GBR to support local police.
There was confusion and panic as shops and offices were closed and people rushing everywhere.
Honiara City Police Commander Gabriel Manelusi said police reacted promptly to the rumours to ensure the safety of the city.
“There were rumours that another riot was looming. Police responded swiftly to ensure safety. Police will continue to be on high alert but we warn people to not raise false alarms or spread rumours,” Mr Manelusi said.
He said people with genuine information should contact police on 23666 or 23304.
Meanwhile the police commander appeal to leaders at all levels to be responsible and help talk to people they are responsible for.
“From national to community and church leaders, it is important that we play our parts in ensuring safety and peace in the city.
“Let us not remain silent and watch. Talk to people under your leadership. We know taking laws into our own hands is not right.”
Meanwhile the Royal Solomon Islands Police urged the public to remain calm.
“We call on members of the public to remain calm and assist police resolve situations that has been arise following disturbance in town over the weekend.
“We are optimistic to resolve the current situation with the help of our people, therefore Members of the public must stay calm as police are doing its best to return the situation to normalcy, people must report to police any unlawful assembling of people, report to police any illegal activity, stay away from getting involved in any disturbances in town and people should remain at home.”
The instability stemmed from a riot last Friday, which left Uncle Alick’s building at King George area torched and looted.
The rioters are some of those disgruntled flood victims residing in the eastern part of the city, who want fair rehabilitation and proper repatriation.
Some disgruntled flood victims are refusing to vacate the SINU (Panatina) and the Festival Village evacuation shelters they are occupying due to claims there were plans to send them back without proper rehabilitation.
The Solomon Star spoke with Flash Flood Victims Coalition Taskforce interim chairman Jefferey Leni who denied the involvement of those in the shelters.
He said it could have been the unhappy ones who were already sent back from the shelters.
National Disaster Management Office director Loti Yates said his office understands some of the rioters were flood victims who are unhappy with the government’s relief program.
“We have to follow certain criteria for support – therefore we have to adhere to those criteria which somehow make people not happy.”
By EDNAL PALMER