Friday, 20 February 2009 9:26 AM

Planned Crackdown on Betel Nut Vendors

The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and the Honiara City Council (HCC) are working in a joint operation to stop betel nut vendors who, in recent times, have mushroomed throughout the streets of Honiara.

Acting Police Commissioner Peter Marshall, in a press conference yesterday, was quick to point out that the Police are not in "the business of putting people out of work or upsetting people in terms of them trying to make money in selling betel-nut."

"The issue is everywhere around the world in every town or city, people can't set up stalls where ever they like on private land or on public land without appropriate planning or approval from the city council," the Police Commissioner explained.

Mr. Marshall explained there are other areas where people can set up their betel nut businesses. He added that what the council is saying, and what the police are doing in supporting the HCC, is that there are certain areas that are just an eyesore for the public, and illegal.

He said that they are working with HCC because some of the locations where people are selling betel nuts "are also some of the locations where some of associated crimes are caused."

Mr. Marshall said he wanted to make it clear to betel nut vendors that they will liaise, support them, and not deprive them of, what is to many Solomon Islanders, a source of income.

"We realize that times are hard and people are finding it difficult in these economic conditions but what I ask is that you play by the book, get permissions to set up business in certain location and we'll have an organized well planned town."

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