Cleaning up just for the show

Editorial, Normal

The National, Tuesday May 26th, 2015

 PORT Moresby police, in conjunction with the National Capital District Commission, have launched a major clean-up operation in the city a little over a month before the Pacific Games in July. 

Acting Deputy Police Com­missioner Operations Jim Andrews said 500 policemen and women would be involved in the campaign. 

The aim of the exercise is to make the city more presentable to visitors from around the region who will be in the nation’s capital for the July 4-18 event.

One hopes that this effort is not a one-off programme but an act that can spur on similar initiatives after the Games to maintain whatever standard achieved before and during the event. It would be shallow and disingenuous of the initiators of this drive, if after all the effort put into cleaning up the streets, they would be left to return to their former state.

The real challenge for the city authority and the police is not getting the streets and roads of Port Moresby in good nick in the lead-up to the Games nor is it ensuring peace and order is maintained during the two-week event but maintain the sense of community and belonging that the programme is obviously looking to foster in city residents.  

The problem has always been enforcement. 

At times it seems the police and city hall simply do not have the capacity, funding or motivation to want to enact and police the laws and regulations that deal with the upkeep and order of life in the urban setting. 

A major focus of the operation is to ensure all public places are kept clear of peddlers and loiterers who contribute to the sale and consumption of betel nut (buai) on streets and roadsides as well as the creation of rubbish.

To this end police personnel and often-used NCDC rangers will conduct regular foot patrols to rid the streets of these street vendors.

Despite this being a major source of income for many of the city’s unemployed, the reality is that if unchecked the sale and consumption of items on every corner and on roads can only be create a negative image of the city. Anti-litter laws will be enacted. 

The amount of litter in the streets, in drains and on roadsides is embarrassing for a city that claims to be the doorway to Papua New Guinea. 

It is fair to say that the carelessness of people has caused many of the city’s streets and shop fronts to be unsightly and unhygienic places to visit.

The problem is the attitude of the people is all wrong when it comes to taking care of public property and showing a duty of care for the environment.

Litter laws, a ban on drin­king alcohol in public places, the sale of buai in non-designated areas, the sale of items on roadsides and at traffic lights are some of the activities that have been left unchecked.

These are measures that should have been taken already but the people have practically been left to their own devices.

There will be a crackdown on defective and unregistered vehicles. 

This is good because the number of clearly unroadworthy vehicles is increasing.

These cars and trucks do not only pose a threat to pedestrians and other road users but contribute to pollution and congested lanes at peak hours.

Up to this day the vehicle owners can still obtain a safety sticker from designated workshops without having to actually prove that their car is in reasonable working order. There are no inspections on vehicles. 

It has become a simple transaction for car owners that acquiring a safety sticker is a matter of providing registration information and then paying a K40 fee.

This has been the norm for years and no one seems to have a problem with it.

Where are the standards? Why is it only now that something is being done? 

It is unrealistic to expect the people to change their behaviour overnight. 

The only way they will toe the line in the short term is if there is the fear of penalties that will be enforced for noncompliance. 

This may not be the ideal way to bring about positive change to the city but the saving grace is that it must be maintained over the long term until the change is accepted and is a way of life.