I DID NOT CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE DAY here in Tabubil. I started work at 7 and finished at 11 after nightshift.
The reason being that I felt there was nothing much I could celebrate. I’m still paying very high taxes (between K700 and K1,000 every payday depending on overtime). My employer’s contribution to superannuation will also be heavily taxed, leaving me with almost nothing.
The real estate industry in PNG goes unregulated, and thus I’m paying K500 every fortnight for low cost accommodation (it could be in a settlement in Port Moresby or a house in a village on the outskirts of Madang).
The public education system in PNG is not what it used to be when I attended school in my rural Bundi; it has gone to decay in rural areas. That has prompted me to put my kids into private schools which is costing me K22,000 a year.
While on break, I get sick and go to the nearest health centre only to be told the medicine I need for my ailment is unavailable.
I missed the plane back from my last break because the condition of the road was so bad the 10-seater Landcruiser I hired broke down.
Just four weeks ago, criminals held up a colleague in Lae and stole everything from him and a couple of others in a shop in broad daylight.
Just three weeks ago, a colleague's dad was knifed in cold blood in Gerehu in Port Moresby. He was a former top cop and a very likeable fellow, and a stranger to no one.
There is nothing to celebrate. I will start to celebrate when the level of corruption drops. I will start to celebrate when an implicated politician or bureaucrat resigns or steps aside.
When the PM and the MPs take a pay cut. When the government lowers taxes, plane fares, accommodation, and improves rural health and education.
I will start to celebrate when those implicated in numerous commissions of inquiry are prosecuted for their corrupt dealings. I will start to celebrate when urban hospitals are brought up to date with the latest equipment and stocked with medicines. I will celebrate when corrupt public officials are made to account for their actions.
Yes, I will start to celebrate when these things happen. I am not a pessimist. But these are the realities I face every day, and to the point where I have lost total confidence in the country's leadership and bureaucracy.