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Port Moresby
March 9, 2021
Mi Ripot

Buai Ban Hard To Chew

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At the beginning of 2014, when Governor Powes Parkop banned the sale of buai in the National Capital District (NCD) as a means of cleaning up the city, many thought it was a fruitless decision. And you have to hand it to him in banning the buai, something equally as ingrained in the culture of this country as the red-stained teeth of those who chew it.

But has the ban really seen a reduction in the number of people who both continue to purchase and chew the product here in Port Moresby and the surrounding areas of NCD?

Costello Avosa, a NCD resident, is of the belief that stricter regulations need to be put in place to see the ban fully enforced.

“It’s not really monitored and when it is, it’s done poorly,” said Costello, who lives on Joyce Bay.

“Sir Michael Ogio, our Governor General, recently called on making the enforcement of the ban much more strict, and I have to say that this is something I support.”

It’s an interesting topic of conversation, as many who still chew the nut believe that the ban is unconstitutional. And those who smuggle betelnut into NCD are contributing (according to a report in the Post Courier) to sales, which add up to approximately K1.3 million per week.

It is believed that buai continues to make its way down from Gulf Province, with towns such as Kerema and Mekeo havens for the nut. Buses are then loaded up and sent back to Moresby, where from there more often than not it makes its way by boat to places like Hanuabada, Porebada, Pari, Fisherman’s Island and Taurama.

It’s a thriving business, and you could make a good case to say that the sale of buai contributes positively to the economy of Papua New Guinea. But on the negative side, buai has caused many an argument and dispute not just in Moresby, but in various parts of the country.

This is, of course, not factoring in the health effects of chewing which include TB (which can be contracted from the red spit we see so often around NCD) and the various forms of oral problems such as mouth cancer.

So with the two-year anniversary on the buai ban coming up, where do you stand?

Do you believe it has been beneficial to the beautification of the National Capital District, and in particular, Port Moresby? Or are you of the belief that with buai being such a strong part of the PNG culture, the efforts to impose a ban are a waste of time and money?

Mi Ripot submitted by Costello Avosa.

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