The National, Tuesday 4th September, 2012
IN November, Britain’s Prince Charles will visit the country as part of the Queen’s 60th anniversary celebrations.
What will greet him when Port Moresby is the second least liveable city in the world, according to The Economist magazine? It ranks 139th out of the magazine’s list of the world’s 140 most liveable cities released this week.
It is not only crime that makes Port Moresby unattractive.
The filth and garbage that clog the city’s drains and waterways, and adorn streets, markets and shop fronts are revolting.
This newspaper has undertaken a pictorial campaign to show just how revolting our habits are in the hope that the disgusting pictures can force some change in our ways. However long it takes, we must change our ways.
Littering in Papua New Guinea’s major towns and cities, including the country’s capital, Port Moresby, needs immediate intervention by authorities as attempts to promote cleanliness has fallen on deaf ears.
If PNG is to be called a paradise, it should first start by keeping its environment clean and free of rubbish.
An environment, whether filthy or free of litter or rubbish, speaks for itself about the kind of people who reside in it.
As the saying goes, cleanliness is next to godliness, but the message seems to have been missed.
Uncollected rubbish seen every day at shop fronts, bus stops and shopping areas in our towns and cities is an indication of a society that can be described as uncivilised, negligent, irresponsible, careless, apathetic or simply put, lacking in civic consciousness.
It’s all associated with common sense or the lack of it.
According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, common sense is a practical good sense gained from experience of life and it is not gained by special study.
Every human being has common sense. But do we care enough to use it?
The main contributing factor of littering in PNG is the habit of betel nut chewing.
The vendors and chewers of betelnut or buai in PNG are not actively held responsible for their actions with respect to littering.
Filth associated with buai chewing has become a problem with husks and spit marring market places, bus stops and shopping centres throughout the nation.
Apart from that, plastic shopping bags, empty drink cans and rubbish of all sort, are carelessly strewn around at every corner of almost every street in our towns and cities. It paints a bad image on the people of this nation.
What does that speak of us Papua New Guineans?
If only we were responsible citizens, we could make PNG a paradise to live in. Right now, when we compare Port Moresby with neighbouring New Caledonia’s capital, Noumea, for example, there is a huge difference with respect to cleanliness.
Here in PNG, spitting of betelnut juice on walkway pavements, paths and roads, has created an eyesore.
An unhygienic environment is a haven for parasitic animals and easy passage for spread of diseases.
Human beings do not live in such environments, or don’t we care?
Can we not improve on these attitudes by using common sense?
Regardless of the levels of education we received, whether here or abroad, our actions still do not conform to the knowledge and education that we acquire.
If we are to focus on socio-economic development, we must also look at changing ourselves from inside out.
At the moment, our country is experiencing rapid economic growth but our attitudes are dragging us down.
It has been 37 years now, but our attitudes haven’t changed to match the kind of developments that we have embarked on.
For example, Papua New Guineans have received and are receiving highest educational qualifications such as masters or doctorates but how we act and do things reflects none of it.
Just by way of careful observation and looking at our social, health, educational and infrastructural indicators such as road networks, hospital, medical supplies, quality of services and of course our own attitudes, one can infer the overall progress, the status and the future of this nation.
We can start by using common sense to make sure places are clean and attractive for the general public and visitors.
Selling betelnuts at the shop fronts, along the walkways generates income for vendors and a mess for everyone. That should cease.
Spittoons or bins must be provided so waste can be disposed properly.
It is sometimes frustrating when passing through crowded shopfronts which vendors have converted into a market place.
It also gives opportunities for criminals to pick a few pockets or snatch bags.
Out of negligence, we have allowed it and now, it has already become a normal habit.
Just take a look at our major towns and cities and you will agree with us.