By Mike Puia
THE safety of locals living in and traveling to Bougainville is becoming the main agenda in social media forums.
This is after the issue of the 29 Bougainvillean men who were arrested by police in the Western province.
On local and Bougainville social media forums, this issue generated tense discussions that included threats.
The 29 Bougainvillean men crossed the border separating Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands by boat on a mission to demand compensation from locals in Noro over the death of their relative. The deceased was part Western province.
Police intercepted and arrested the group and had them locked up at the Gizo correctional centre.
The next day they escaped. One of the escapees reported to New Dawn FM in Buin, Bougainville that local police were tough on them and even removed some of their personal items – a report later dismissed by the local police.
Administrator of the Yumi Toktok Forum, Benjamin Afuga, has issued an advice to locals to think twice before travelling to Bougainville.
“I have read some disturbing comments in the Bougainville Forum. …The issue has sparked anger at our police and citizens,” Mr Afuga posted.
He said for the safety of our citizens, it is important to take precautions by refraining from crossing the border to Bougainville whilst the issue is still not resolved.
“I call on the Ministry of Peace, Western Province and Bougainville authorities to quickly get together and resolve the issue once and for all,” Afuga posted.
He said while the issue is not resolved it is advisable that locals refrained from crossing into Bougainville territory.
Solomon Islands has locals living in Buin, Arawa and Buka. Some usually travel across the border to these places to sell their products.
Some forum commentators said this issue needs to be dealt with at a more diplomatic level.
There is still no fresh update about any effort taken by the authorities to resolve this issue.