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What life is really like in (very expensive) Port Moresby

Port Moresby (Scott Waide)
In Port Moresby what appears to be a big salary is ripped to shreds by the reality of big city life

SCOTT WAIDE | My Land, My Country | Edited

LAE - Anyone living in Port Moresby without institutional housing, or support from relatives or parents, knows it’s an absolute nightmare.

Port Moresby is the most expensive city in the Pacific.

The rental price structure is like that in Australia and yet the wages employers’ pay don’t match the cost of living and housing is skewed towards the high end market.

Real estate companies charge a minimum K1,000 - K5,000 a week in rental. The vast majority of Papua New Guineans don’t see that kind of money in a fortnight or even six months. 

A salary of between K35,000 and K50,000 is next to impossible to live on if you have a family.

The figure looks great on the payslip. But it can’t pay rent. You can’t save enough unless someone else is paying the rent or your company pays for accommodation.

In Port Moresby, the buying power of an K80,000 a year salary is limited if you pay your own rent. Quality of life diminishes once reality sets in after the first year of work.

It’s a painful reality that many young graduates have to face. What appears to be a big salary is ripped to shreds by the reality of big city life.

In my own case, at one stage, up to 60% of our salaries went to pay rent every fortnight. We were evicted three times because our rent was late. We paid up. But the real estate companies didn’t like it.

Once we lived in a compound where the rent collectors came with bush knives every fortnight to collect payments.

At the end of the fortnight, money was always short. Sometimes food ran out three days before the fortnight’s salary hit the bank. It was frustrating and stressful.

School fees are expensive. They have risen over the years. Sometimes parents can’t send their kids to school because the fees have accumulated from last term. Nobody talks about the difficulties that families face.

Food is expensive. Poor quality food we ignore at Lae Market is sold for exorbitant prices in Port Moresby. People have no choice but to buy it because it adds a bit of variety to their diets.

Who can save money in such an environment?

This is the reality governments don’t talk about. What is large scale investment if our people are paid slave wages or the environment makes their salaries insignificant?

The National Housing Corporation and the evictions it conducts always draws my ire. Housing is a basic need. Yet the corruption in that one organisation continues to rob Papua New Guineans of affordable housing.


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Philip Kai Morre

How can our prime minister, James Marape make PNG a rich black nation within ten years if there are structural and underling problems of poverty in the cities and towns?

How can we expect someone to live on the streets, under the bridge, crowded with wantoks, on top of roofs and feeding from rubbish dumps?

It is a violation against human rights to be unable to get better housing, food, employment and education. In fact we are in a worse state of poverty experiencing dehumanised socio-economic conditions.

If we continue to experience criminal activities in towns and cities, we will become victims of a society that is very sick and needs to address the problem immediately. The worst is yet to come.

Kenny Pawa Ambaisi

Thank you Scott for exposing the reality here in the capital city of Papua New Guinea. Life here in Port Moresby is very expensive.

Yesterday I heard from NBC Current Issues that people are homeless. They are living on the streets.

They make bridges, toilets and demolished building as their homes. They feed on fast food outlets.

A person who was interviewed by NBC said 'he lived under a bridge while working with Shady Rest'.

Accommodation is a problem so native real estate owners must lower their prizes. K500 per fortnight should to be OK.

Business is one thing but service and humility is another thing. After all what you accumulate on this earth wont be brought with you when you die.

Apart from real estate, formal and informal money lenders needs to rationalise their rates. Charging 50% or 100% interest on a loan is another things which is making family have financial hurdles.

We really need Papua New Guinean owned SMEs involving in real estate and finance companies to be service oriented to and for their people.

They must lower their interest rates.

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