WEWAK - An overpopulated urban enclave is the dominant and troubling image I am still trying to handle in my mind of the national capital I visited recently.
People were everywhere. Anywhere you looked there were people. Not busy working but loitering. Many just sat on the steps of buildings and along the streets, observing the throngs of passers-by or staring into empty space with hungry looks on their faces.
It was not the healthy look of a developing country.
The results of such overcrowding are too many to chronicle here. But to name just two: the traffic is chaotic with too many cars on too few roads, made worse by inadequate signs and faulty traffic lights.
A huge volume of traffic passes through narrow streets and children who should be at school weave between moving cars to sell stuff to passing motorists. Chaos!
There is also overcrowding at the main campus of the University of Papua New Guinea at Waigani. The facilities were built in the late 1960s, when I was a student there, to cater for 2,000 students. The student population has quadrupled but the facilities remain the same.
In my brief visit to the Law School I was told that the size of a tutorial could be as high as 40 students for one tutor. That is simply too big for a tutorial in terms of effective teaching. It is alright for lecturing but not tutoring. In Australian universities the ideal maximum size of a tutorial class is no more than 15.
The new O'Neill government must seriously look at formulating effective national policies on urbanisation and population to contain these problems.