THE Government’s stand to control the spread of Covid-19 in PNG does not address many socioeconomic issues.
One is the lack of clear message on how the state of emergency and the shutdown will affect rural, urban and peri-urban population who rely on informal markets for survival.
These people make up more than half of the current PNG’s population.
The Government should not overlook them because they live in areas with minimal or lack of basic services.
Examples of such services include water supply, sanitation, health and education services, proper roads, bridges and market spaces.
These people never complain or protest against the Government as long as they have food to feed themself and their family.
Now the Government is asking them to practice social distancing, washing hands and keeping clean without making water accessible.
It is unthinkable to force them to shut down and deny them markets, the only source of daily income to put food on the table for family.
While we appreciate what the police and everyone is doing at this difficult time, using force on the disoriented and hungry population who try to sell goods for survival will trigger civil unrest.
The actions of the well-off people to empty shelves in the face of uncertainty can increase fear and serves as a catalyst for shop looting by citizens who are facing lock down.
The Government should coordinate state of emergency and shutdown in ways that minimises economic uncertainty, fear and improved practical measures to instil confidence in the ordinary people. The Government should strive to be for the people, with the people and by the people in good and bad times.
Bomai D Witne