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Port Moresby defeats 130 world capitals to win worst city tag

Gordons Market, Port MoresbyKELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN

OUR nation’s capital, Port Moresby is the central governmental, commercial and command nucleus of Papua New Guinea.

It has more than 400,000 people with an average density of 16 persons per hectare. The population continues to increase as a consequence of high fertility and immigration.

As a result, all avenues of social provision to enhance quality of life are stressed and the city is vulnerable and vicious trap.

PNG’s current population growth rate is at 3.1%. The availability of modern health facilities and medicines such as anti-retroviral therapy for people living with HIV have reduced the death rate and increased the life expectancy, also creating an ageing population.

Immigration into Port Moresby is huge. The bright city lights and what they promise are a great lure. But very few Grade 12 graduates find spaces in tertiary institutions and thousands of drop-outs from around the country are forced into the city’s settlements to find shelter and protection.

PNG has a long shoreline, thousands of islands and atolls and a long rugged land border with Indonesia. At the same time, it has ill-prepared defence and naval forces that are incapable of stopping illegal Chinese immigrants and drug syndicates from East Asia.

The legal and illegal East Asian migrant population is increasing rapidly in Port Moresby and tends to stroke the fat cats and allow them to rest easy.

Isolation and lack of development, tribal warfare and insecurity in the local level governments and wards throughout PNG impede people’s aspirations to improve their skills and income. People migrate to Port Moresby to escape.

The city’s existing settlements are expanding even as new ones are established. Right nowthere are 20 planned settlements and 79 unplanned settlements.

Forty-four unplanned settlements are on state land and 37 are on customary land. These settlements lack proper planning, are poorly resourced and lack urban services.

Overpopulation and poverty have long been connected with increased death and disease. People who move into unhygienic housing are particularly prone to health problems and even natural disasters.

TB is on the rise in Port Moresby. Skyrocketing food prices confine people to scones and cordial as staples.

Port Moresby, it is said, ranks eighth among the 30 most expensive cities in the world.

The city’s people mostly do not have the income for decent meals so they resort to crime, sex and corruption to obtain money for food.

The Port Moresby General Hospital is congested, services are poor and there is a shortage of skilled medical professionals. The lack of doctors puts the hospital under enormous pressure to adequately treat and manage patients.

Informal markets sprout everywhere and people fight over spaces to sell cheap fake products from South East Asia.

The markets are overcrowded and people spill onto te roads and footpaths, often sharing both with cars.

Drug addicts and street kids, stoned to near nirvana with Maryjane and coffee punch (grog), roam freely, squeezing schoolgirls’ buttocks and snatching mothers’ bags.

The impenetrable traffic jams have given meaning to a saying in PNG that “public servants deliver one year’s work in three years” since they always arrive late at work.

Aggressive highlanders are taking over available space in demarcated areas and the more polite and orderly Papuan, Islander and Momase people are left out of the informal sector at designated markets.

During the fifth Melanesian Cultural Festival this year, impoverished settlement vendors and vagrants were tortured with fan-belts by police.

A direction from the fat cats to sweep these human pests off the roads and city corners to give a false impression to our Melanesian neighbours that Port Moresby is civilised, well behaved and is clean.

They say the chaos in Lagos, the gun battles in Bogotá, the crime in Karachi and the bombings in Baghdad are no match to an unplanned and wild city such as Port Moresby.

The Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed and reported that Port Moresby is overwhelmed with poverty, crime, poor healthcare and a widespread gang culture from the fats cats right down to the cleaners.

As such, it has defeated 130 world capitals to take out the derogatory tag as the worst place to live in.


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John Kaupa Kamasua

I would like to see more civic programs that break down cultural, ethnic and other barriers that we are building around us because we are afraid or not comfortable with the next person.

POM city can be a better place, and should be.

The catch is to get everyone involved, mostly in a gainful capacity. That's a challenge!

The attitude thing...well that's something all of us need to work on, some more than others.

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin

Denny, Port Moresby is better than Baghdad, Lagos, Bogotá and Karachi.

It is the attitude problem: throwing rubbish and defecating, spitting, graffiti, grabbing of handbags, ethnic groups not melting into the pot and the unplanned nature of the city that marks PNG down.

Caveat; don't carry any hand luggage, cameras or mobile phones around. Street kids will salivate to take it from you.

Apart from that, the people are friendly. They will want to shake hands, converse with you and share a cigarette.

PNG has the world's most beautiful land and seascapes outside of Port Moresby to offer to the world.

You are welcome!

Denny Carty

Hey, folks I'm moving there in January from UK. Any advice?

Peter Pirape Anage

Well..well..while the commentary is not far off the mark, it also ought to be remembered certain facts.

Rewind the clock 10 years back and what you do see now is not what was 10 years back. I must admit that POM today is far better than what was 10 years ago.

There is a general perception that attitudes have slightly changed for the better, while roads and infrastructure are slowing but surely taking shape, health and education services are slowing making an improvement, footpaths and flower gardens are beginning to make POM look beautiful, etc..

Give POM another 5 years and it surely will be the crown of the Pacific. .....and of course with Powes behind the drivers seat. "..We create the nest we roost in.."

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin

Angra Dom, the fly-over, I assume is to push the human pests under the carpet so the pests can scavenge on the crumbs below while the fat cats soar unimpeded.

The highlands will be forested again since it will lose half of its population to Port Moresby once roads connect. Settlements will expand as far as Laloki and Bautama.

Some ethnic groups will lord over the others as is evident in Port Moresby now.

Buckle up for the worst!

Jimmy Awagl

Great analogy in this essay, terrific discussion, Angra Joe.

Port Moresby becomes the home of the country's economy and it directly discriminates wealthy from poor.

Port Moresby now becomes the home people with the tag "Ssrvival of the fittest".

Money is the solution to your survival in Port Moresby.

Fidelis Sukina

Sad for a Papua New Guinean to read this about their capital city.

Who knows what the future holds. I see shanty houses popping up on mountain sides around the city.

I just hope the highway from Morobe to POM doesn't cause more to worsen the city's image.

Mathias Kin

Well written bro Joe.

Francis S Nii

Thank you Sil for the interesting piece on the downside of Port Moresby.

On the upside, I truly think Port Moresby has improved its image a lot during the tenure of Powes Parkop as Governor and this includes his addressing of settlement issue.

Give him another 10 years and Port Moresby will be the capital of the Pacific.

Obed Ikupu

Thank you Sil for this essay.

The horror and despair of Port Moresby has come to fore.

Michael Dom

But we are getting a fly-over...

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