The Royal Solomon Island Police Force (RSIPF) Joint Border Operation Team and the Famoa Council of Chiefs held a meeting at the Kulitanai Village in Shortland Islands in Western Province on 18 July 2020 to discuss preparations for any outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the western border with Papua New Guinea.
Tactical Commander of the RSIPF Joint Border Operation Team, Inspector Kerry Sireheti explains, “The meeting was held as part of the partnership with the elders and the Famoa Council of chiefs to discuss their communities’ existing Crime Prevention and Health committees. This is to strengthen security and health aspects of their communities as they prepare for any outbreak of COVID-19 into the western border.”
“The prevention of any outbreak of the COVID-19 into our western border should be everybody’s business, strengthening of security at the Solomon Islands/Papua New Guinea common border is every ones’ responsibility. That responsibility should be vested on the shoulders of the elders and the Famoa Council of Chiefs and the Joint Border Operation Team on the ground.”
Inspector Sireheti adds, “From the policing perspective, we have strongly advised the chiefs to be organised and setup some rules and byelaws to govern the members of their communities in order to prevent them from breaching the COVID-19 State of Public Emergency regulations restricting any movement across the common border.”
“During the meeting we appealed to the chiefs in the Shortland Islands to protect their beautiful islands as lots of developments are coming up and people there are so fortunate to have the Joint Border Operation team providing the security at the western border compared to other Solomon Islands borders where there is very limited presence of any security agency.”
RSIPF is seriously looking at increasing its current presence at the western border with increased officers that has been hampered by the appropriate level of infrastructure and logistics at the border.
RSIPF has proposed a further funding of $46 million from the Government to boost security at all of Solomon Islands borders in the fight to keep the country COVID-free.
Solomon Islands is yet to register any COVID-19 case but government authorities including the RSIPF have stepped up their efforts to prevent any outbreak as the virus has reached neighbouring Bougainville.