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Will the old Lae please stand up again?

Kids on bikes in the park - echoes of the Lae of old

| My Land, My Country

LAE – On Friday night when Lae MP, John Rosso, talked about what the city was like in the past, there were quite a few people who nodded their heads in agreement.

They remembered a city with popcorn and cinemas in Eriku, Town, East Taraka and other suburbs. There was a botanical garden, unfenced, with aviaries, ponds with goldfish, BMX bike tracks and ice cream trucks.

It was a city that had some of the most well planned suburbs in the country.

Today, it is sometimes hard for my children’s generation to grasp the former glory of my city. 

For me, when I depart from this earth, I hope to have helped contribute to efforts that made this city (and country) better than it was, or even greater than what it was when we were kids.

Early this month, when the Lae City Authority and the Lae community organised the biggest bike race we have seen in decades, it brought a lot joy to children and young adults. And for their parents, a sense of nostalgia.

We used to have lots of BMX bikes. Lae’s roads were filled with kids with bikes. Those bikes took us everywhere. They were how we made new friends.

They also got us working with our hands. We learned how to fix the wheels, repair damaged brakes and repurpose bike parts.

Now, in a space of two months, bikes have come back.

Groups of kids are on the streets again, on bikes. In my nostalgic mind, I want to see people ride to school and live in a city that is a happy place to be. 

In East Taraka, the old cinema is now the Anglican Church. Across the road was a private clinic and next to it a post office and a few shops. The streets were clean and the roads sealed and well maintained.

There was a City Council that actually functioned. Imagine that? Not a City Council that earned a reputation as a corrupt financial sinkhole, high on the unenviable position, of the Internal Revenue Commission hit list.

I do hope we can work that old Lae City back to today’s reality.


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