Words and picture by: Thelma Allingham, Wewak.
Blueberry Rum and Wanbel (Blueberry Punch) infamously known as KEROSENE by youths in East Sepik Province is currently the root cause of the alarming increase in lawless acts within the 16 wards in Wewak Urban.
Due to excessive consumption of Kerosene by youths, the cheaply sold over the counter alcohol/spirit has prompted ward councilors of ward 7(Augustine Kabai),10(Darius Kausik), and 11(Paul Saun), local landowners in Wewak Urban and the police to take severe actions against youths to minimize crime rates in these three wards.
In a meeting with members of the communities, ward 10 councilor Darius Kausik pointed out the importance of maintaining a peaceful and trouble-free Community, and in doing so certain actions must be taken to eliminate/reduce the crime rates and lawless behaviour of youths after consuming Blueberry/Wanbel.
It is being evident that even primary school to high school students and homeschoolers are consuming Kerosene and causing nonsense every week which in most cases resulted in them being picked up by police or worse, starting fights and eventually ended up being hospitalized.
According to statistics given by Wewak General Hospital Accident and Emergency (A&E) support staff Relvie Nagai, every week there’s about 5 to 10 youths being brought into the A&E and the stories behind the accidents and emergencies are almost the same and it’s always in relation to the consumption of either Blueberry rum or Wanbel. This has been ongoing for a while now since the drinks hit the shelves of retail outlets in the Province.
One of the concerns that aired by many parents was that a total ban on the import and distribution of that alcohol in retail shops throughout the province must be taken into consideration by the town Authority. It was also mentioned that due to the fact the alcohols are being at prices as low as ranging from K10/500ml to K30/1500ml made it accessible to youths thus a total ban is highly recommended.
Wewak Town Mayor’s Executive officer, Luis Koinduo who was also present at the meeting addressed the concerns raised and highlighted that Wewak Town Authority has gone ahead in taking a few steps towards that direction by which an Act/Law is being tabled to be taken into account and approved so that laws against such alcohol use are executed effectively.