Gov’t steps-up border security: PM

PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare says the Government has stepped up border security around the country’s international maritime boundaries.

Speaking during his nation-wide address today, the Prime Minister said the increase number of cases in neighbouring Papua New Guinea and the one positive case in Bougainville calls for greater cooperation in our border management efforts.

“The Government is currently stepping up its multi-sectoral agency response and preparedness activities in Shortland Islands, Choiseul and the Malaita Outer Islands,” he said.

Prime Minister Sogavare said the COVID-19 Oversight Committee is maintaining close communication with the Provincial Disaster Operation Committees of these three Provincial Governments, to ensure all necessary technical and financial assistance are urgently deployed to their respective authorities.

He said the police force in partnership with health authorities have also deployed additional personnel and necessary equipment to the border areas to work closely with all Provincial authorities and community leaders at our Western border starting last week.

“Strict control measures to prevent border crossings to and from both sides of the border are necessary to ensure we prevent the entry of COVID-19 into Solomon Islands in light of the situation in neighbouring Bougainville,” the Prime Minister said.

On Friday 14th August 2020, last week the Prime Minister 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.

The Prime Minister said the RSIPF have been deployed across the Western Border and are patrolling and policing the international border between Bougainville and the Solomon Islands.

“We have 58 RSIPF members at the border. However, as of today we have increased our presence at the borders to 73 officers. We have deployed an additional 15 officers, which includes the Police Response Team (PRT) and the Provincial Response Unit (PRU),” he said.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has reiterated his plea to people at the Western border to cooperate with the government agencies and assist them in protecting the borders.

“The people and the Government needs 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,” he said.