Papua New Guinea
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Alleged hefty fees by reservists

Residents at the Aseki Station, in Menyamya district, Morobe Province, are frustrated with the hefty fees allegedly charged by police reservists to attend to law and order issues in the district.

A public servant voiced her concern that after her brother was apprehended by the reservists following a land confrontation, she went to the temporary holding cell and was told to pay K3,000 bail before he could be released. 

Margaret Silas, a local at the Nanima-Kariba Rural LLG, voiced similar sentiments, saying it has been nearly a decade since regular police officers were stationed at Aseki Station.

“If there’s no money, the issue will not be attended to,” she said. 

“They can kill each other. If there are regular police officers here with guns then yes, the people here will fear the law. But reservists here have nothing. Not even a vehicle. So the reservists depend on funding from locals.

“Furthermore, when we bring our grievances to the police station, normally, they used to get K50 to sort it out. Today, they will charge both parties K300 each. It is now too expensive to solve our issues. Even with killings, we just let it be.

“Many a time, I would question these reservists because my husband used to be a reservist during the term of the late Thomas Pelika. He told me that when attending to matters in the village court, K50 is an acceptable charge from both parties, totalling to K100. 

“Today, most of our youth are smoking drugs and drinking homebrew. Parents are talking but they are not listening because there is no law and order. Even our children are yet to see regular police personnel.”

Officer-in-charge of the Aseki Health Centre, Sr Mathilda Maborai, believes that because the reservists are locals, there is no trust between them and residents. 

“When the reservists go and talk to them, they say, ‘these are K5 police’. That’s what I hear most times. 
“At the same time, they charge the community. When a minor incident happens here, they overcharge. I don’t know what their limit is.”

Sr Maborai gave an example of an alleged verbal harassment case involving health officers. The officer in question was then charged K5,000 and as usual, no proper documentation or reason was given by the reservists.

“This is uncalled for. We really need regular police officers from outside. With locals, I see that we have no trust in them.”

In response to these concerns, officer-in-charge of the reservists, Constable Martin Yalanem, said their charges depend on the distance they have to travel. He said they charge K100 and below for communities near them, while those further away are charged K150 or below.

“We are not on the payroll,” he said. “With K150, three or four police personnel will attend to the case. It’s up to them, however they want to split the K150. After they attend to the matter, they report back to me and I, in turn, submit a report to our police station commander, who sends it to Lae.”

Yalanem said the provincial police headquarters in Lae is aware of the fees they charge.