The National, Tuesday December 15th, 2015
PAPUA New Guinea has been labelled a corrupt nation but the problem might not be that simple.
Although this maybe an unfair generalisation by the world bodies that hand out such ratings based on key performance indicators such as health (infant mortality rates, instances of communicable diseases) education, infrastructural development (roads, bridges, wharves), women’s rights, law and order (crime rates), etc … there is more to it then a group of figures on a spread sheet.
As much as the powers that be would like to deny anything is terribly wrong with the country and how it is being run the evidence says otherwise.
Like a serious illness affecting the body PNG is fighting a constant battle to stay on a path that will deliver the people to a better state of affairs.
The symptoms are exhibited on an almost daily basis.
After 40 years of independence one would have thought that the country would have attained a level of prosperity that reflected the abundant natural and human resources available but that is not the case.
If the last four decades has taught us anything it is that we must not take anything for granted. We simply cannot afford to because to continue as we would mean we risk losing everything we have and are.
Developmental issues are the government’s main challenge.
The current government is by no means a perfect one but one hopes that its actions are genuine and that it has the people’s welfare at heart.
Infrastructural development is a key component of any nation’s drive to a better state.
Presently, the country’s main road, the Highlands Highway, is under different stages of improvement.
A completely sealed and maintained Highlands Highway can only be good for the nation. In terms of its economic impact, the five Highlands provinces have a transport route on which to do business and to connect with the coast.
Some have complained, at times and especially after the recent ethnic clashes in Lae, Morobe, that the highway has been more a curse then a blessing but no one should dispute that having road linking all major centres is beneficial to the people in the long run.
The fact that the nation’s capital, Port Moresby is still not linked to other major centres by road 40 years speaks of a lack of drive by governments to open up the country.
There are still hundreds of communities that do not have direct access to a road in this country. One can only imagine what kind of effect that has the development in those communities.
With regards to education, PNG’s system is rapidly being outflanked by the growth rate and this in turn is accounting for the high number of unemployed youth walking the streets.
If compulsory education is to be a reality then the education department with other relevant bodies that handle community development and social welfare must be equipped to enforce the law.
Increasing the number of students going into schools is one thing but those schools must be able to cater for the rise in numbers as well produce a certain quality of student.
It goes without saying that as the population increases so must the state’s ability to accommodate the needs of the increasing masses.
If the government cannot then surely something needs to be done to control the growth.
From an economic stand point the rising numbers means there must be jobs created for people to have a reasonable means and opportunity to support themselves.
Although this country has a very high unemployment rate – at least two thirds of the adult population is not formally employed – that is offset by the fact that many of the communities in the country are self-supporting.
All rural communities are subsistent in nature and have hardly been affected by modern life.
However that dependence is increasing and many modern conveniences are now staples of life even in the village.
The government may trumpet all the good it has done over its term in office but even they must realise that the job is by no means close to being completed.
Law enforcement across the board, not just by the police but by the state and its various entities must be vastly improved if the country is to make real progress.
The country and its people should be much better off than where they are now.