By LIONEL MUNGAE
Putting in place proper facilities to detect imported goods and the travelling public will be one of the top priorities for National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Authority (NAQIA) this year.
Acting Managing Director Joel Alu in response to the outbreak of African Swine Fever in the Asia-Pacific region said NAQIA is embarking on setting up proper machines at the airports and wharfs to detect goods and animals that are brought into the country.
Among new facilities that would be set up this year, Mr Alu said an x-ray machine will be installed at the Jacksons international airport, a new wharf terminal to detect containers coming from overseas will be built in Central Province and also a new terminal at Kila Kila.
Mr Alu said a new x-ray machine costs about K700, 000 which is sufficient enough to effectively detect international passengers and luggage arriving at the airports.
“At the moment we can only physically dispose suspected foreign virus host, such as food. Other hosts apart from food are still a risk, that is where these x-ray machines will come in very handy,” Mr Alu said.
“This is because many times when passengers are coming in from foreign destinations, we scan them manually and allow them to get through.”
He said NAQIA would not be asking the national government to build these vital facilities but would rather use what is appropriated in its annual operations.
Mr Alu said NAQIA as the agency responsible for biosecurity in the country would be working hard to ensure that the African Swine fever and other deadly diseases that are reported around the world are not brought into PNG.
He said with proper facilities in place and coordinated team work with other relevant agencies, NAQIA would be able to carry out its mandated roles effectively.
He also warned the travelling public not to bring in frozen meat from other countries as that would be likely to contain the African Swine Fever disease which is commonly found in pork meat.