Dear Police Commissioner David Manning;


I recently made several trips to Madang and on my last return trip I became so frustrated and angry by the sheer shamelessness of illegal actions by your policemen. I believe that you and your executive managers as well as senior managers are well aware of this practise but have been continuously turning a blind eye and pretending it is not happening.

In all fairness this practise appears to be concentrated within the Eastern Highlands and Madang provinces starting from Watabung all the way to Ramu which is within your Northern Command.  So I hope that the adage that the subordinates will do what the superiors are doing is not true here.

Let me state the facts here to assist you understand the seriousness of this.

On Sunday 02nd May 2021, I was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser 10 seater. I was transporting 35 bags of buai each weighing about 20kg which on average 700 or 800kgs. I had a total of 6 people in the car including me so that would be around 480kgs average. That totals about 1, 200kgs. To the best of my recollection, this vehicle has a maximum load capacity of 1, 500kgs so my total weight load was well within capacity. I had tied down the buai bags with rope to secure them for safety and to balance the car.

There was nothing wrong with the car. My licence is current, the registration and safety sticker are current, all lights are working, the wipers work, signals work, everything. I make sure they are in order before I get out in compliance with the laws.

My first encounter was at Ramu at around 1730hrs. After all checks, the policeman said I was overloaded! I asked him how come and he said I should not have any passengers in the back and I had too many bags! He then said arresting and charging me would be K500 bail and it would be better to pay a spot fine and leave it at that. So I forked out K50 as asked for a receipt or note in case of other roadblocks. He said thank you but we do not have any receipts. This was in a blue cruiser with Gusap police on the side. One hour later I noticed the same car flying up behind me and going into Gusap station. 

My second encounter after that was at Yonki police station at around 7pm where I was stopped by a young MS 14 member. Again all checks were good except my passengers and cargo. He called to a “senior” who then said to book me for insecure loading. I asked how that was so when I had the load tied down. The “senior” explained that I should not have passengers in the back with that quantity of cargo. So I have already committed an offence. Seeing the futility of arguing, I waited. And sure enough the same line about arrest, charging, bail amount, court fines etc were spewed out and the offer of a lesser spot fine was put to me “at my discretion of course”.  So another K50 came out and off I went.

My third encounter the same night was at Kainantu town at about 8.10pm. Here again the exact same scenario was played out all over again. It was almost like different actors auditioning for a screen role with the same lines! But here, your policemen were obviously under the influence of alcohol and semi-drunk. Another K50 gone.

The fourth encounter was at the Watabung African Swine Flu checkpoint where the whole scene was repeated again. The money was handed to a senior constable who claimed to be the 2IC of Watabung station. This was around 10pm. K50 again.

My final encounter with your hard working policemen was just outside Goroka and this time with your highway patrol. This was clearly marked on the side of the car. Same story…same outcome. And yes, these upstanding officers of the law were drunk too. The time was about 11:25pm.

I was running along this highway with buses and trucks loaded to the brim with buai bags. And the trucks had people hanging out all over them. Was anyone arrested? Were any vehicles impounded? Of course not. It would be funny if it weren’t so serious and distasteful and disgusting.

Commissioner. The simple facts here demonstrate a complete and total breakdown in command and control within your department. I praised you last time for the quick action you took against those men in NCD and their officers. What I am posting here is exactly what is happening along the highways of this nation and I and 100% certain that many travellers in these roads will confirm it.

Your men are using state issued high powered weapons which are issued for use against armed criminals against the very people they are supposed to be protecting. They instil fear into drivers and passengers and demand payment of bribes in cash indirectly by threatening them with arrest and incarceration if nothing is paid. No receipts are issued AT ALL! 90% of the time, they are under the influence of alcohol. They wear state issued uniforms to give legitimacy and credibility to their actions. They use state vehicles to man the roadblocks and state issued fuel for these cars.

Has the police department run out of money to pay fortnightly salaries for policemen in that area? The last I heard, a constable was on over K700 per fortnight! That is more money that a lawyer fresh out of law school makes! So where is the failure? Are your commanders too scared of their own men that they cannot discipline them? Or are the commanders in on it too and splitting the money with the men?

I recommend you go through the monthly returns for Eastern Highlands and Morobe and Madang and see how many traffic arrests have been made each month in these provinces. I also suggest you send a senior officer from PHQ out there to see how many vehicles have been impounded and check the number of prosecution cases and traffic fines have been registered and logged in the records. I assure you that you will only find accident records and wrecked vehicles in their yards.

So why are you allowing this to happen. Your men are committing several crimes here. The first is extortion. The second is soliciting bribes. The third is receiving bribes. The fourth is official corruption.  These are shameful acts which totally and completely degrade the RPNGC in the eyes of the public. It is a disgrace the uniform and image of the RPNGC and totally destroys the respect anyone would have for the men and women in blue. What are you going to do about this Commissioner?

To close off, I would like to contrast this with the actions of some members who displayed courtesy and professionalism. And these are the members of MS 1 and MS 4 that I encountered at Kainantu and Wata Rais about 4 days earlier. These men checked the vehicle very thoroughly and found that although I had 4 people in the back with two in front and 30 bags of buai, there was nothing wrong and they just bid me a good night and safe journey. My hat off to them. 

As for the others, they do not deserve to be in uniform and should be thrown out of this proud institution. As a former policeman myself, I was so ashamed and sad to see how low many of my former colleagues have stooped. 

The Constabulary needs to be revamped and revitalised to eradicate this kind of behaviour and to being back respectability and pride. Your outstanding inaction is unbecoming of you and you should get your act together and do something about it. These dogs are a waste of precious police resources and are costing the RPNGC too much in much by tarnishing the image of the organisation and yourself as well as destroying much needed public support.

Paul Amatio


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