There are ways to keep our country united
15 December 2022
A G SATORI
PORT MORESBY - I am not as pessimistic as Mathias Kin about the future of Papua New Guinea as a capable and united country.
Highlanders are most enterprising and will pull a good sweat to achieve something.
It is this attribute the nation should try to harness in a proper way.
At present, we have the laws and rules in place, but the enforcement mechanisms are not working.
The processes, procedures and systems to enforce these rules and laws must be strengthened and provided with adequate resources.
The rule of law should take centre stage and mechanisms to get respect for the rule of law should be a paramount concern for the government.
I think it would be remiss to not appreciate the zeal of Highlanders.
Nothing can really be done to stall their over-zealousness to do business, be it in the right or wrong way.
One action that can assist stall the disintegration of PNG is for politicians to stop interfering with the public service machinery and with the appointments of heads of government departments.
Departmental hierarchy should be based on merit, adequate educational qualifications and career experience.
Another thing politicians can do is to declare their assets annually in public through the media.
Any accumulation of wealth should be thoroughly investigated for 10 years after a politician has left office.
We seem to have lost the passion to work the land. Look at all the rundown plantations.
If the government puts in the budget, decent housing and adequate wages, I'm sure Highlanders will not go looking for alternate ways to make a decent living.
I believe that none of the groupings that Mathias refers to will cause problems.
Human beings want a decent roof over their heads and a decent wage for their sweat.
We need to keep to the land, stay out of town and stop relying on pollies and pushing them to act like a bigman.
We need good and passable roads to get our rural produce to a point of sale. Every village must be linked by road.
Transport difficulties mean a lot of coffee, copra and rubber goes to waste every year.
Every employer must be mandated to provide housing on site - good decent housing and not matchboxes like the ones recently put up by the Misima mining company.
Housing for logging and oil palm industry employees must be better than the current model, where even two family members is a crowd let alone three with the babysitter.
Madame Bishop spoke bluntly to the politicians but it's for all Papua New Guineans to do the small things right and we'll get by.
She could assist by demanding that all Aussie consultants in PNG go back home.
Boomerang aid provides just one consultant with K40,000 per month tax free. Most departments have a couple of consultants too many.
One department has six that cost them K6 million a year. That could pay a decent wage for 200 more Papua New Guineans.
And Mathias, what about those foreign overseers? We need legislation to stop them whether in mines, plantations, shops or sweatshops.
They milk out a lot of our internal revenue and they are unnecessary overheads that get passed to the people of our country.
For the cost of overseers and consultants, much adequate housing could be provided on plantations, logging sites and mine sites.
This would keep the zealots away from towns - and tribalism will become less evident.
We also need to bring back the public service grading system where you have clerk classes 1 to 10.
Workers should be moved around the country based on their public service grade instead of being fixed to a position.
When we can get our people to work anywhere, we will have created national unity instead of the provincialism we have now.
Mmmmm they certainly can drive Moresby PMVs.
I lived most of my time in coastal PNG but did a stint in Tari. The young workers had been picked by the owner. They were happy to have got a job.
So were excited when the first truck from Hagen arrived just as I had my cold shower (system hardly ever worked without giving an electric shock if I touched the shower metal walls).
Anyway by the time I opened the doors to the loading bay there were my workers.
Having been a copra man I was amazed to see two young men sharing as they carried a 25 kg bag of rice into the store. I explained that two bags was a minimum load for each man.
I got the trucker to place three on my shoulder and so they eventually managed to find two bags was OK.
Sugar bales at 15 x1kg meant at least three on a shoulder and I easily carried four again to show them.
The biggest loads in those days seemed to be carried by the women together with a baby also in a bilum, while their hubby walked proudly behind with his spear and/or fighting axe.
Not much had changed when I was up in the Eastern Highlands in 2007. It seemed it was mostly the female 'white horses' who carried the family's white bags of coffee for miles to the nearest four-wheel track and a buyer.
My young brothers-in-law on the coast thought nothing of carrying a full bag of cocoa or copra down to the wharf. It's driver could shoulder our 40hp outboard from there up a long and often muddy track to store it safely in a shed.
My limit was for a 8hp outboard engine, that I would load but on a much shorter carry.
I recall seeing Australian logging experts felling in a tree competition. Their rivals were PNG young men who fancied their chances against the whiteys. Perhaps only having seen us using chainsaws.
In those long gone days the men from Down-Under were clear winners. Mind their axes were beautifully sharpened and by the looks of them were especially for similar rural shows in Oz. Each tool was carefully wrapped and placed in its own box.
Even my father-in-law when in his fifties could carry a newly cut 2m kwila or even heavier mangrove post for a new hut. I could hardly lift one end off the ground.
The water tank on its concrete stand at Vaisavamvam in the centre of Lavongai island is witness to the ability of coastal men to work very hard.
Or the statue of The Virgin Mary on Patiarai Mt. where she stares across the beautiful bay at her husband Joseph on the bell tower of Lavongai Parish's large concrete and home made brick church is another example of their stamina.
I once saw my men them load my Suzuki jeep onto a dinghy and then manhandled it onto our small copra boat.
Still without any ring road I guess life has changed very little even after 52 years apart from the degradation of the rainforest in three illegal clear felling SABLs
Posted by: Arthur Williams | 18 December 2022 at 10:22 AM