Steven sells to survive in the big city


STEVEN Tumau does not mind being the only man sitting among the women vendors in Waigani.
It is a matter of survival for him in the big city of Port Moresby which he decided to come to 16 years ago from his home in Buin, Bougainville.
Steven, 53, sits among the women outside the Waigani shopping and marketing centre, opposite the Waigani police station.
“The business is good. You make a profit from the mark-up to the items you buy.”
He decided to come to Port Moresby to look for job opportunities. He ended up as a street vendor.
Steven is the only male and Bougainvillean among the women vendors selling a variety of store items such as trousers, belts, hats, biros, shoe brush and polishes, spectacles, socks and necklaces.
He thinks street is a flourishing informal business activity with good returns which is helping many unemployed people in the city like himself earn some money.
The only problem he and other vendors face is the lack of regulation to protect their small businesses. They feel insecure because police and National Capital District Commission employees can evict them without notice at any time.
“It has led to a slack in the business. Some of us have left because they were not making enough money. On top of that, there is no security for us.”

“ The business is good. You make a profit from the mark-up to the items you buy.”

He is also aware of the intense competition in the informal market which more than half of the city’s population depend on every day.
Steven hopes the city authorities can give them space and leeway to run their informal markets as their families depend on their income to put food on the table and send children to school.
“We need to be properly registered and operating under regulations to give us security so that we will not fear disturbances, losing of marketing items to police and NCDC employees.”
Tumau managed to reach Grade Six at the Tobago Primary School. He involved himself in business and agricultural activities before the Bougainville crises erupted in 1988.
The 10-year conflict between the PNG government and Bougainville Revolutionary Army removed “the best things” in his life including his home and properties.
It destroyed his youth and the efforts he was making to earn a living. So he decided to come to the capital city.
He met and married a beautiful lady from Kerema. They have two children who are attending school. So he has to work hard to provide for his family.
On the result of the referendum last year, he welcomes the voice of the majority who want self-determination.
“It is good and I am looking forward to the next stage of development on the arrangement between the PNG government and the Autonomous Government of Bougainville. He is looking forward to returning to Buin one day.

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