PORT MORESBY - Have you ever wondered why urban settlements are growing, mass rural urban migration happening, urban accommodation rates skyrocketing, evictions from settlements are occurring everywhere…..
Have you ever wondered why urban customary land is being bought by outsiders, urban law and order problems are rising, urban poverty is growing, rural district centres are run down, the incidence of street begging, prostitution and cities full of rubbish is increasing?
Why are these things happening? What is the source?
Listen very carefully. We are sitting on a ticking time bomb.
Before our nation was colonised we lived in isolation from each other. When we were colonised we were unified to live as a nation.
To live as a united Papua New Guinean, did we get one thing correct? That is the true meaning of living together in oneness as Papua New Guineans.
Our towns and cities were planned for the people who colonised us. Not for you and me.
When we got independence we lived on it as if the current towns and cities were for us.
Successive governments have turned a blind eye to the need to plan our towns and cities. A lack of urban planning has led to growing urban settlements.
The population is growing but city boundaries are not expanding. Housing demands are rising but there no land – and no services - available for housing.
Buildings are erected everywhere but there are no inspections or policing of development regulations.
Our population is growing but employment opportunities are minimal or nil.
What is wrong with us?
We have not got the process correct since independence, especially regarding accessing customary land.
So who will do this for us?
PNG seriously needs a Land Development Agency dedicated to urban planning and land development.
An agency called the Office of Urbanisation was established in 2003 to advocate for these development issues. A national urbanisation policy was formulated.
But this agency was abolished in 2016. I believe this was a serious mistake by the government.
PNG's population is hungry, desperate and demanding to live in towns and cities.
But we can't live in the true meaning of a united Papua New Guinea without planning.
We are constantly assuming that urban settlements will automatically transform into properly planned homes. This will never happen.
We need government intervention through institutions with mandatory functions empowered by laws and policies.
Our country heading towards disaster if we do not plan properly.