The Deputy Commissioner, Operations, in the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, Juanita Matanga met with villagers from Tuha, Nuhu, Maleai and Nila as she arrived at Nila on 23 March 2021 for the start of a one week visit to the Shortlands and Choiseul Province.
“My presence here today is to talk with the certain selected communities because of the great concern that have reached the RSIPF concerning some issues that have to be dealt with seriously as soon as possible before it’s too late,” DC Matanga told the villagers that gathered at the Nila Parish Hall.
“The RSIPF is concerned about the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Papua New Guinea including on Bougainville. I want to reach some understanding with you on how we can work together to prevent the COVID-19 from spreading from Bougainville into our side of the common western border with Papua New Guinea. We need to protect our people, especially those of us who live in the western border from this pandemic,” said DC Matanga
She explained during the meeting, “The COVID-19 has no boundaries and it doesn’t select which person to affect.”
“There continues to be interaction between our people in the Shortland Islands and Bougainville. This is very risky for our people on our side of the common border.”
DC Matanga told the community meeting at the Nila Parish, “I understand the majority of our people in the Shortlands have taken the risk seriously but others continue to ignore the State of Public Emergency that has been declared last year to stop illegal border crossings due to the threat posed by COVID-19. Let us make the right choice to avoid risking the lives of our people.”
“Let us all work together to stop the entry of COVID-19 by not interacting with our people on Bougainville while the State of Public Emergency is still on.”
DC Matanga added, “Since Bougainville is very close to us, we have to change how we think and stop our interactions with people on the other side of the common border. Our front liners who continue to protect our side of the common border can also be affected by COVID-19 if there is community transmissions.”
“I am urging elders within your communities to take on the responsibility to look after our people. We are in a crisis situation so we must change our leadership style.”
During the community at the Nila Parish a teacher at the Nila Rural Training Centre Justine Nameh said, “We always remind our students to observe the health measures and they have to go back and assist their communities to do the same.”
“Let us all assist the police and ensure there is no interaction between ourselves and our people from Bougainville.”
Mr Nameh encouraged the people in his community to report any sightings of any boats crossing the common border to police or other responsible authorities.
“We have to work together against COVID-19,” said Mr Nameh