BY AXEL RICE
People hate the sight of them but use them a one-stop shop for the ever popular betel nuts and simuk. Street vending is an issue that has made its way into the national media, an indication of the disturbance it causes.
It is hard to go into a single street in Lae, as with most of PNG, without seeing these street crawlers. The popularisation of betel nut and homemade cigarettes, along with the introduction of Digicel flex cards (notably phone credit vouchers) have paved the way for the establishment of these retailers.
I have seen as many as four vendors crammed into one street, which clearly shows the extent to which these micro-businesses are overpopulating our society.
Public opinion about street vending, with the minor exception of those that do it for a living, has reached an all-time level of disturbance. One example is the distribution of betel nut. Betel nut, though having a highly valued role in our society, is really “pollution in a shell”.
While vendors aren’t responsible for chewing betel nut, they are high contributors to the distribution of these nuts into almost every location in this country.
What I’m trying to say is that street vendors are just another of many ways of distributing corruptive goods, while along the way creating adverse effects such as pollution, halting modernisation and destroying our national reputation.
Street vending, convenient as it seems, has no future in our country. Markets can distribute betel nut and its what not; supermarkets and retailers can sell cigarettes and phone credits. The convenience of street vending is outweighed by its negative aspects.
Some street vendors are now even beginning to upgrade to small tradestores – selling products ranging from buai to items such as bread. The legality of this transitional phase is questionable and is eating away at the sense of what is legal in our country; once again corruption at full throttle.
It is up to the government to start acting and making wise decisions, even in terms of a compromise to create a sense of satisfaction for the various groups affected. A striving nation is a healthy nation.
Axel Rice (15) was born in Lae of mixed Australian and Papua New Guinean parentage. He is a Year 10 student at Coronation College in Lae and has lived in Papua New Guinea most of his life