THE CAPTAIN REPORTS
29 November 2006
Here's a rattling good yarn about life in the PNG capital today ...
For Port Moresby cabbie Paul Egan, the smashed and spiderwebbed upper-right section of his windshield is not a big deal. Probably, he surmises, caused by a stoning after an argument. Nor is the bullet hole just beneath the handle of the driver's side door. A car-jack attempt? He doesn't know.
Sporting a collared plaid shirt and gray trousers, Egan, 46, from Papua New Guinea's mountainous Simbu Province, pulls his deep blue Mazda 323 cab from the International Terminal parking lot at Jackson Airport.
"All that damage," says the former restaurant chef as he drives toward the National Capital District, about a 10-minute drive, "happened to the driver who had this car before me. I got it 8 months ago."
In a day Egan can earn up to 160 kina (about $80), but more realistically he pulls in around 80 on average. Sunday is his only day off.
After subtracting costs for fuel, flats, and the fee to his employer (Kongo Taxi), he's still doing much better than the national average. (For reference, a worker in rural areas not engaged in subsistence agriculture will earn less than 40 kina a week.)
Egan's worst customer is the drunk. "Sometimes," says the thirteen-year veteran, "they drink and drink and drink until all their money's gone. Then they cannot pay the taxi bill."
More from The Captain at ‘Sake-Drenched Postcards’ here. And an equally well written story about the Alotau canoe festival here.
Photo: Sake-Drenched Postcards