Friday, September 21, 2012

PNG going to the dogs

By DAVID MURI

Photo Credit: Malum Nalu
DO animals inhabit Port Moresby? Many visitors would think so. Because the city’s entire length and breadth is overshadowed by stink and filth. This supposedly modern metropolis – Papua New Guinea’s largest – replicates more or less a pigsty, where animals of the lowest echelon dwell and breed.
I am forced into this filthy issue because I see that junks, which are hardly found in pavements of any other capital cities on earth, are hastily dumped here. Why? Should we say Papua New Guineans have animal brains and could not distinguish good from bad? Or are we still primitives and could not differentiate between right and wrong?

I am briefly breathing fresh air here in North Lakes, a quiet Brisbane suburb of some thousand residents. I left on Independence Day to commemorate our big day with other patriotic PNG residents here. I know Port Moresby is home, but I want to be frank and make some sincere comparisons here. Port Moresby is our capital while North Lakes is merely a new suburb mostly of residences and a few shops.

In here, and many other cities right across Australia and elsewhere, people live under the rule of law. They know what is lawful and what is unlawful. They also know what is right and what is wrong. I could hardly see plastics on the roads, a cigarette butt on the walkways, graffiti on walls, eskies and stalls on shop fronts, condoms on breathtaking beaches, drunkards in residential areas, bushfires, razor wire fences, potholes, broken windscreens, unregistered vehicle, unlicensed drivers, beggars, stray dogs, and the list of home-experiences goes on. The only rubbish were falling leaves or rain drops which vanishes into channels. There are no tucker shops, street vendors or unnecessary gatherings of drunkards in the neighbourhoods. Everyone is quiet and mind their own business. You hardly hear a shout out of a neighbouring window.
“Everyone respect the law here. They live under the confinements of the law,” my host Paul Kurai tells me.
“You can’t cross the road anywhere else apart from the designated crossings. You can’t even walk on the lawn. If you do that people will see you as a mad man. There are footpaths where couples walk their dogs down,” he continues.
Councilor Kurai owns a home in up market North Lakes. The other thing is that you cannot differentiate the rich from poor as everyone lives similar lifestyles. You cannot even build a house outside the requirements. I saw that rubbish is hated. Because people cannot live with dirt and bad odor.

Even though we have come of age and are autonomous now, we still lack one thing and that is; attitude. We have just celebrated 37 years of independence over the weekend but the filthy state of Port Moresby is the sickening reflection of our attitudes. If Port Moresby, the gateway to ‘the land of the unexpected’, is in total crumbs then imagine how messy our towns and outlying districts are. Port Moresby is the first impression of PNG. But it is rapidly going to the dogs.

The main culprits who are dumping our pride into the garbage are the so-called working-class citizens. They are the ones who are promoting almost all illegal activities in the city.

The ugly sight of all is their betel nut spittle, followed by plastics, graffiti and anything useless that is regarded bunkum. If you are a chewer, don’t take offence because I’m highlighting the reality here. Simply admit that you are promoting to deface our city by buying this dreadful nut and chewing only to spit on the corridor of your office. This city is being invaded by street vendors that Governor Powes Parkop could not do much to contain the growing influx.

Parkop had tried in vain with the City Rangers, NCDC rules inspectors and police but could not contain the mess. It now falls back to each and every citizen to take ownership and maintain whatever infrastructure that is available so that Powes can use the limited funds in priority areas like health, education and roads. If we keep on polluting our environment and expect NCDC to clean the mess then they can do it, as the custodian of the city, but at a price. The limited funds and resources that should go to vital services for our benefit will continue to be diverted to clean our mess.

You look around Ela Beach, Gordons Market, Downtown, Waigani office area, Tabari Shopping Centre, Vision City, Harbour City, and even the new Waterfront Mall have all been invaded. It is a cancer, more than white-collar crime or corruption. If the trend continues then PNG will lose it reputation shortly. A visitor would not expect to see Down Town in such a mess. A market should be a market and a pavement should remain a pavement for pedestrians. We should not convert a pavement into a market or a food bar into a betel nut stall.

The Downtown CBD is quickly becoming a trade centre for items like CDs, mobile phones, sunglasses, etc. It is also a betel nut haven.
If only us the elites can use our heads and not buy from them then we would at least play a part in eradicating this cancer. They do it because we promote. Thirty-seven years is a long time, we must change our attitudes now or never!