By Joseph Manelugu
The Royal Solomon Island Police Force is working in partnership with other law enforcement agencies and stakeholders to fight against the current spread of COVID-19. We are concentrating on blocking our western border with Bougainville, which is the eastern-most island chain of Papua New Guinea. As an Assistant Commissioner for Provincial policing, I have been appointed as the commander for border operations.
With assistance from a New Zealand advisor, we initiated a program called COAST WATCHERS 20/20. The purpose of this program is to work together with stakeholders and communities to watch our coasts for incoming foreign vessels, boats, yachts, and ships and to communicate to the nearest police stations or other law enforcement agencies so that they can take appropriate action.
Dealing with communities can sometimes be difficult, especially getting them to participate fully on certain unfamiliar requirements. We are thus communicating with all communities and islands in the country and are informing them of the program and the reasons why they should provide their support. We are asking citizens to work as volunteer coast watchers, looking out for foreign boats, keeping a close eye on all vessels coming into the country and reporting back to law enforcement agencies.
The Coast Watchers program is not entirely new to Solomon Islands and has a long history here. During the second World War, Americans and local coast-watcher Solomon Islanders communicated well with each other as they reported sightings of enemies approaching certain locations in the country.
Today, we are combating COVID-19 by preventing its entry to Solomon Island through our borders. So far, we have been successful and Solomon Island is still free from COVID-19.
Assistant Police Commissioner Provincial