CRIME THREATENS GROWTH IN PNG’S LAE TOWN

Editorial

PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Oct. 19, 2011) – A final year University of Goroka student was killed, allegedly by her husband, in Lae city this week. In the same week, another woman was killed when a gang fired upon a vehicle she was in. The vehicle was in a convoy with other vehicles that were taking a dead relative to a cemetery, outside the city, for burial.

This city is also known for its ethnic clashes in the settlements, especially along the Highlands Highway from 2-Mile to 14-Mile. In those clashes, people are killed and homes are destroyed. Ethnic clashes are also common in the districts, which are also known for cult movements among the people.

Such is the situation in Morobe and Lae city today that when people read about these criminal activities, they are no longer alarmed for they accept this as the norm in that part of the country.

It is rather sad that for a city and province with so much going for them, its people are hell-bent on destroying the good opportunities that are coming, like never before.

It is about time they realise that all roads - from the Hidden Valley gold mine, the Ramu nickel mine, Yandera gold project as well as the PNG liquefied natural gas project and other resource projects in the highlands - lead to Lae.

And already the city is experiencing growth in commerce and trade, like never before. This growth is definitely going to gain momentum in the years ahead as more businesses move into the city or are started by investors to tap into the opportunities created by these resource booms.

Papua New Guineans, whether they are from the Highlands, Momase, Islands or Southern, have made Lae and Morobe their home and they get along nicely with the Morobeans. They,too, have a huge responsibility to clean up their homes of crime and other forms of anti-social attitude and behaviors.

Fighting crime in Lae or Morobe is no longer in the hands of the police. They are doing their best, given the resources at their disposal. It is the people who have to make a serious commitment to tackle crime and take on the fight. Now is the time.

The people in Lae city or Morobe know who the criminals are for they are living in with them; they are even sharing in the proceeds from their illegal activities.

It is about time the people help law enforcing agencies like the police deal with the criminal elements. This will eventually lead to the creation of a safe and pleasant environment that is conducive for businesses to flourish, which means more jobs and other income opportunities for the people.

We are pleased that the Governor Luther Wenge has called a big forum to address lawlessness in the province. It is good that the provincial government is taking the lead and hope that positive gains will come out of that meeting.

We know that the Morobe Provincial Government supports the work of police and other law and justice sector agencies and it should continue to do that but at the same time, come up with strategies to control the expanding settlements around the city, deal with the criminals and those who harbor them. It must develop programs that engage young people meaningfully in income generating activities.

All agencies of government and the business community in Lae should throw their support behind the provincial government.

When Lae city is changed into a better place, the experience can be replicated in other towns and cities around PNG.

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