Eradicate ethnic violence in city


ETHNIC violence is turning Port Moresby into tribal war zones and portraying Papua New Guinea as one of the last frontiers where uncivilised tribesmen still roam and kill at will.
The latest was on the weekend between a group from Hela and Southern Highlands at 9-Mile in Port Moresby following the death of a recently graduated university student in a drunkard brawl which resulted in the destruction of several homes, vehicles and other properties.
The violence again shows that modernisation has had little or no impact on the mind set and behaviour of our people.
Last month, at least 10 people were injured, houses were destroyed and trees cut down to block the roads at 2-Mile on Sunday after a fight between Erave, Southern Highlands and Chimbu people.
The tribal fight between the two groups resulted from a local rugby league game which one group did not accept and fighting broke out.
Last year, two people died, three homes were burnt and a gun confiscated after police rounded up two warring parties involved in a tribal fight at the Morata settlement in Port Moresby.
More than 100 men, originally from Goroka in Eastern Highlands and Wabag in Enga and now living in Morata, were fighting over a piece of land.
While Port Moresby has its share of ethnic violence, it is nothing new to Lae, the country’s industrial hub and gateway to the populous Highlands region.
The same for Madang.
Many highlanders and people from other coastal provinces have migrated to Port Moresby over the years and are now permanent residents.
Their children call the capital city their home as many were born here.
Despite their change of environment, many of these people continue to think and behave the way they do in their places of origin.
In times of conflict with people from other provinces, they are prepared to fight and die just the way their forefathers and ancestors did back home. National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop overtime has been challenging city dwellers to embrace high quality of life and forgo ethnic clashes which only impede development.
People engaging in ethnic clashes should leave Port Moresby.
Many will disagree on the move to introduce Vagrancy Act, but it is time to stop the uncontrolled urban drift that is the root cause of ethnic conflicts and violence not only in Port Moresby but other centres as well.
We couldn’t agree more with commentators that the new generations of Papua New Guineans will continue to suffer from the negative effects of ethnic conflicts unless our leaders take a tougher stand on this issue.
It remains to be seen whether the Vagrancy Act will help to resolve ethnic conflicts but it may be a start in preventing the uncontrolled movement of people from the rural areas to the urban centres.
There have been arguments for and against on this legislation, which critics believe is against the freedom of movement as stipulated in the Constitution.
The current tension between the Helas’ and Southern Highlanders has the potential to erupt into full-scale ethnic violence, something that should be avoided at all costs.
Therefore, it is imperative that our political leaders and the relevant authorities consider the most effective ways to stamp out ethnic violence in our cities and towns.


  • In the absence of sound effective means of handling this ancient war-game in this 21st century, we may have to look to history….one of which is to “Arm conflicting parties to the teeth and let them fight” alias “tooth for tooth, eye for eye”….draconian? Give it a try.

Comments are closed.