SETTLEMENTS CRITICAL FOR URBAN FUTURE
Urbanization and related issues
By Vincent Pyati, an Expert in Urbanization
In Papua New Guinea, safety and security issues are prevalent in our cities and towns. A case in point is the revenge killing in Koki by Taris has forced business houses in Koki and Badilli to close for three days. Such Urbanization related issue has helped compromise mobility and safety of the residents. Other readings: https://unhabitat.org/papua-new-guinea
In the recent past, a lot of such ethnic clashes happened in the nation’s capital. Additionally, the such is true for other urban centres. We cannot tolerate such this long. Many people are calling for removal of the settlements. Over and above this, the world experience proves that this is not an appropriate solution to end this issue.
Apart from security issues, there are health issues such as waterborne diseases, TB and other airborne diseases. They are common in the settlements. Illiteracy rate in the settlements are high as majority of the kids are not going to school. Thus, they will be our enemies in the near future as they use force for survival.
Traditional notion of associating settlements with urban poor does not hold any water in PNG. There is a booming informal real estate market in the settlements which absorb most of our housing needs. Housing demand has slowed a bit in the recent past because of this informal housing supply. Most of our public servants are living in these settlements and serving this nation.
The formal economy and the informal economy has an inverse relationship. If one collapse, it will affect the other. Most of the participants in the informal economy are residing in the settlements. Forced eviction or removal of all settlements will have a significant impact in our economy.
VAGRANCY ACT NOT A SOLUTION
Many people are calling for re-enactment of the Vagrancy Act. If they are sent back, the basic services they need are not available in the villages. It is like suppressing the majority for benefit of a minority. This is not the true spirit of our Constitution which binds us as a nation.
One thing we don’t realize is that these settlement dwellers are resilient people. They work hard in difficult circumstances to provide for their family. Just imagine if we provide conducive environment for them to engage in economic activities. They would be excelling economically and in other aspects as well. Other editorial:https://pngsun.com/2020/04/03/will-oneill-get-a-taste-of-his-own-medicine/
In conclusion, these few paragraphs give the pros and cons of settlements. I recommend a balanced approach that will make great difference in our urban centres and the generations to come.
I URGE THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT AND CITY AUTHORITIES TO SERIOUSLY IMPLEMENT THE POLICY IN RELATION TO SETTLEMENTS. THE IMPACT WILL MAKE A TRUE DIFFERENCE IN OUR URBAN AREAS. WE WILL BE TRULLY SECURING A HARMONIZED URBAN FUTURE FOR OUR COUNTRY.