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Solomon Islands will be opening a new border station early next year in its Choiseul Province to process people transiting to and from its shared border with PNG.
The border station will be located at Taro Island and will have Customs and Immigrations personnel based there and will serve as the formal entry point into Solomon Islands from the nearby Bougainville Island of PNG.
Speaking at Buin, South Bougainville, Solomon Islands Customs team leader, Bimbo Iresi revealed this saying the border is a common concern for both PNG and Solomon Islands and there were security challenges that needed to be addressed by both governments.
Citing regional stability and the movement of people and goods across the border, he called on greater joint efforts by Customs/Immigrations officials from both countries to address illegal activities and exchanges that may be occurring along the unmanned border.
He said the joint border awareness program currently being implemented by PNG/SI Customs and Immigration was the result of the last border talks in 2016 and he was pleased that the program was being launched in Buin, the nearest border town.
“Now we need to move forward and strengthen our inter-agency cooperation through customs, immigration, police and other stakeholders to ensure that our citizens are protected and our common border is adequately looked after by both countries,” Iresi said.
He appealed to the people of South and Central Bougainville to follow the new border regulations once developed between both countries.
PNG Customs Commissioner, Ray Paul said there was a lot of unregulated trade happening along the border and the government was losing out on collecting revenue through customs taxes and other charges.
“As of January next year, we will be properly screening people who cross the border and customs and immigration laws will come into play. You will need to have travel documents including passports to enter the Solomons and vice-versa,” he said.
Paul said although the people of Bougainville and the Solomon Islands are ethnically connected and considered traditional border crossers, Bougainville is part of PNG and therefore customs and immigration laws applied to everyone that uses the border.
“Illegal people or aliens can also use this border to traffic contraband or illegal substances and trade illegally so the movement of people must be regulated and registered,” he said.
Paul commended South Bougainville MP, Timothy Masiu for his leadership in moving things at the political level for the border to be given recognition by the national government and he called on the people of South Bougainville to support the initiatives of their member.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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