FRANCIS NII | Supported by the South Pacific Strategic Solutions Writing Fellowship
THERE ARE FAMILIES in Port Moresby city that survive on income from selling buai and the proposal by the National Capital District Council to impose a blanket ban on the nut in the nation’s capital is akin to passing a death sentence on these people.
Does Governor Powes Parkop have any plan for their survival?
We all want our cities, towns, villages, rivers and seas to be clean and free of pollution.
But in the process, no one in their right mind would compromise human lives for environmental beauty.
To sever the only lifeline of our very own people without providing them an alternative means of survival is akin to homicide.
Prostitution and criminal activity in the city will rise as these people struggle for survival. There will be more HIV victims and other social and health problems contrary to intended outcomes.
And then there are families in the rural areas where buai constitute the main source of income. The ban will have adverse financial implications on their livelihood as well.
So banning buai in Port Moresby will not only affect traders and users in the city but will have implications for many people including the little farmers in places like Morobe, Madang, Oro, Gulf, East and West New Britain, North Solomons and even the periphery of NCD.
Instead of a blanket ban, the NCDC must explore other means that are beneficial to all parties. If NCDC has run out of ideas then it should ask the public to contribute ideas and select the best one and pay for it.
Here is one suggestion.
The NCDC could issue buai trading licenses and identifications to traders. The license should have terms and conditions spelt out clearly in Pidgin and Hiri Motu.
It should state the location of the trade, which may be at the main market or in front of one’s residence or any other place mutually agreed to by the buai seller and the NCDC.
The NCDC must supply trash bins with the license number and location and small plastic bags to the license trader free or for a small fee.
When people buy a nuts, they must also be given a plastic bag for the buai skin and spittle and dump it in trash bin. City trash collectors will empty the bin and leave it behind for reuse.
When the plastic bags run out, the trader can get the NCDC to replenish them.
Before closing up, each trader must clean up his or her designated spot.
The city rangers must do routine inspections.
Heavy penalties should be imposed on those who do not comply with the conditions of the license.
Spot fines should apply to misbehaving buai users.
In this way no one is a loser. Everyone is a winner.
And more importantly, the responsibility of taking care of the rubbish is given back to the perpetrators in a regulated way. This will cut down the clean-up cost as well.
There are buai traders in the city who are conscious of their rubbish.
Last September, I stayed in the city with a family at Gerehu Stage 3. The mistress of the house sold buai at the gate of her residence.
She put her buai stall close to the trash bin provided by NCDC. And she ensured that her customers left the skins and the spittle in the trash bin that had a plastic bag in it. You could hardly see buai skins and spittle at the spot. All went into the trash bin.
Why not try this suggestion and see if it can work? If it doesn’t work, then go for the total ban as mooted.