Hodava, a forlorn avenue in POM

Normal, Weekender

After a 13-year absence, ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ renews his relationship with cratered Hodava Avenue at 3 – Mile, Port Moresby

ONLY ABOUT 400 meters long, Hodava Avenue at 3- Mile is one section in Port Moresby that has not seen progress at all since I first saw it 16 years ago.
Although it is right in the heart of the city of close to half a million people, this avenue has no doubt been plunged into hopelessness. To the city residents, anything moon-faced is hopeless.
To call it an avenue is an insult to the road itself. It is a misnomer: It is short and narrow. It can never compare itself with its smooth Big Brother “avenues” snaking across the city. Its many attributes include a number of craters and potholes, bumps and dust, rubbish and occasional raskols.
If this road was named after a person long time gone, the poor honoree must be turning and tossing in his grave, unable to endure the great injustice and dishonour to his memory.
His descendants, wherever they may be, I must say, should protest vigorously over this for redress. And redress is nothing but giving this road the facelift it badly needs. Now.
My old car needs three long minutes or so at 10kph to negotiate this stretch from the corner where the 2.5 star Shady Rest Hotel proudly sits along the smooth-surfaced, jet-black-blue Taurama Road, to the gate of the compound of my new residence some 300 meters away. That’s one minute of rolling for every 100 meters of this road.
Driving over 20kph is a big “no-no”. For doing so could easily damage the car’s suspension system and thus, send my 20-year-old, museum piece of wheels to kingdom come.
Like myself, my rickety car also happened to live at our compound during those days 16 years ago and went through the torture only roads like Hodava Avenue could whip. Fortunately, it is the same old but still dependable car that I happen to drive these days.
So when I came back to this compound 16 years later last week, I felt my Mazda 323 grumble, growl and cuss under me. I could understand my car’s problem – it was seeing this road again after all these years.
I came back to this compound to take up residence once again. Sixteen years ago in 1993, it was my first home here in Port Moresby.
I am quite certain pitiable Hodava Ave has not seen an honest- to-goodness facelift for the last 16 years.
Most likely over the same long years, it was ridiculed, cussed, damned and condemned in the same way that the city government was ridiculed, cussed, damned and condemned by every motorist who drove along this road.
But the residents here – locals and expatriates – have more reasons to raise a fist. This is home to them and the sad state of Hodava Avenue is making their lives a bit wretched and stressful.
When I first came to Port Moresby in December 1993 from Manila, I settled in a flat that sits right along this bumpy, rutted 500s. 
And the first impression that hit me right that early morning while we negotiated this “avenue” coming from the Jackson Airport was “Wow! This road needed some tender loving care from the city government!”
For the company car that contained me struggled hard along the short span of its lunar namesake until finally reaching the gate of our six-unit domicile.
I lived for three years in what we called “Hodava Compound” along with other company staff. Indeed, it was a modest accommodation and everybody tried to make the most of what we got during those years.
And whether it was stormy or sunny, there was no way for me to appreciate what this road had offered me during my stay along this road.
When not hosting drunkards moonlighting as raskols, it is adorned with a roadblock set up by the same blokes who were now playing real raskols and harassing motorists and pedestrians alike for betelnut money.
But there was one consolation that I could remember while walking this road on my way to what was known then as the Taurama Gym.
It was the profusion of rich red, violet and yellow radiating from thick bushes of bougainvillea that overwhelmed both sides of this road. The profusion of such colours was quite a spectacle. All these are now long gone.
Before coming home from my night-shift job shortly before midnight, I would alert our compound security guard through his cell phone that I was on my way and would be home, most likely in 10 minutes.
By the time I turned left to enter Hodava Ave from Taurama Avenue, the night guard would be standing by the roadside just next to our compound gate, watching my approach, and on the ready. He knew I was that one struggling on the road from the brief, rapid flashings of my car’s headlights.
Alerted, he wanted to prepare himself should my car bog down in the middle of the road and be unable to continue with our journey home. Or that, he wanted to make sure no raskol would block my car while it crawled.
Well, this has been the routine since I settled in my new home a week ago.
And to neutralise the threat to my safety while dealing with this road, I intend to make friends with the raskols that have become permanent fixtures by the storm drain bridge just next to our compound. This was the advice I got from my Papua New Guinean neighbours in the compound.
I have no problem with that.
Somehow, they may appreciate friendship from Filipinos like me.
But making friends with bad roads like Hodava Avenue? It’s a tall order, if you want to know the truth.