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Street vendors are a burden on modernisation

BY AXEL RICE

Street vendor from WabagSTREET VENDORS, THE BOTTOM END RETAILERS of our nation, are a burden to the modernisation of Papua New Guinea.

People hate the sight of them but use them a one-stop shop for the ever popular betel nuts and simuk.  Street vending is an issue that has made its way into the national media, an indication of the disturbance it causes.

It is hard to go into a single street in Lae, as with most of PNG, without seeing these street crawlers. The popularisation of betel nut and homemade cigarettes, along with the introduction of Digicel flex cards (notably phone credit vouchers) have paved the way for the establishment of these retailers.

I have seen as many as four vendors crammed into one street, which clearly shows the extent to which these micro-businesses are overpopulating our society.

Public opinion about street vending, with the minor exception of those that do it for a living, has reached an all-time level of disturbance. One example is the distribution of betel nut. Betel nut, though having a highly valued role in our society, is really “pollution in a shell”.

While vendors aren’t responsible for chewing betel nut, they are high contributors to the distribution of these nuts into almost every location in this country.

What I’m trying to say is that street vendors are just another of many ways of distributing corruptive goods, while along the way creating adverse effects such as pollution, halting modernisation and destroying our national reputation.

Street vending, convenient as it seems, has no future in our country. Markets can distribute betel nut and its what not; supermarkets and retailers can sell cigarettes and phone credits.  The convenience of street vending is outweighed by its negative aspects.

Some street vendors are now even beginning to upgrade to small tradestores – selling products ranging from buai to items such as bread.  The legality of this transitional phase is questionable and is eating away at the sense of what is legal in our country; once again corruption at full throttle.

It is up to the government to start acting and making wise decisions, even in terms of a compromise to create a sense of satisfaction for the various groups affected. A striving nation is a healthy nation.

Axel Rice (15) was born in Lae of mixed Australian and Papua New Guinean parentage.  He is a Year 10 student at Coronation College in Lae and has lived in Papua New Guinea most of his life

Comments

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Axel Rice

Going through some of my past essays and came upon this one to re-read and somewhat feel that I was a little biased!

Thanks for the comments as they have opened my eyes and gained me experience.

Plus an opinion is an opinion, regardless, thus should be respected. Thanks for comments though.

Sam Logan

This is a complete misconception of PNG life.

Street vending is a way of life a way to earn money and a living.

Some PNG people don't have the money to invest or even to buy food for their families if you try to stop this you will make their lives harder for them.

Elizabeth Wrakonei

I like your essay, Axel. Keep striving for the best

Ken Strident

These poor people are trying to make a buck like everyone else.

Walk in their shoes for a time.

Bernard Sinai

I disagree. I believe that consumers are to be fair share for the pollution. The street vendors, while an ugly sight in the cities, are filling in a demand gap created by consumers. Unfortunately, you will find that consumers are the main polluters; throwing buai husks everywhere and spitting like nobody’s business.

John Par Kagl

Well thought out Axel.We cannot deny the fact amide the stripe of living it calls for. I have witnessed and supported youths in my house who made a decent contribution in everyday living through this small cash earning activity.Try somebody who has nothing to do in your house and you make him self supporting as well as supporting you.They are some of the hard working ordinary citizens who are driven to the limit of hopelessness.The difference between pickpockets and beggers are the street vendors.It is an other product of our modernization, of which successive governments have over looked.Long live the hat wok lain.

David Kitchnoge

I'm not sure if street vendors are impeding modernity in PNG although I somewhat get Axel’s drift.

But I think street vending is generally a demonstration of the confused development path we’ve chosen for ourselves: a path that is trying to somehow build modernity from the towns and cities backward into the villages.

I think the reverse path would be more suitable and sustainable for us and will result in sending back the so called “street crawlers” back to their villages.

Alex Harris

I'm in agreement with the preceding comments.

What we do for a living, how many university degrees we have, is not nearly as important as who we are.

Seems to me street vendors in PNG, surely one of the more difficult business environments, should be applauded for their initiative, self-reliance and hard work.

These are the skills necessary to succeed in life, regardless of their job title or lack of formal education. Never confuse this with inability.

These street vendors are doing the best they can with what they have. They do not hold up modernity, they are outcast by it and the handful of politicians grabbing all the spoils of progress for themselves.

Em nau - kudos to all the self-motivated and hard working micro-business owners.

Marcus Wenda

Axel I sincerely hope you get a job when you finish school.

However, like many other intelligent young Papua New Guineans, you may find out the reason why the number of these "street crawlers" is growing: there are no jobs, because 'modernisation' rewards rich foreigners and the truly corrupt businessman - PNG politicians - not the 99% of Papua New Guineans.

Don't be ashamed of these traders. They are real businesses contributing in a real way to the economy - more than can be said for 'modernisation'.

Robin Mead

Some people around the world have few options in trying to scrape a living.

We also have street vendors in Australia, spruiking local small restaurants or various charities. And buskers, and in the cities numbers of beggars.

They do not hold up modernity; they are just another example of human beings having a go and trying to turn a buck.

While they may be sometimes annoying I wouldn't want to see them just banned.

Michael Dom

Good thinking and well expressed, Axel, I appreciate your view.

Do you think that street vending and the explosion of buai selling are also a result of our modernisation?

A growing economy but still low employment, few have the money to invest and many have little means of cash income.

Yuambari Haihuie

Well done on taking part in the Crocodile Prize.

I would like to refer you to an article called In Defence of the Noble Buai Sellers by one Martyn Namorong who is a 'street crawler' (as you call them) held in some high esteem around these parts.

I look forward to further contributions from both of you.

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