Growth, Costs and Opportunities of Homelessness in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea has seen significant growth in the last ten years. This may be due to the fact that there have been many investors who have placed their money on industries such as oil and copper mining. But what effects have these investments had on the PNG population?

png population

Many developments and infrastructures have also been made such as the PNG LNG project and the South Pacific games infrastructure which has contributed much to provide employment for struggling Papua New Guineans. Big projects such as this required the utilization of a huge amount of manpower and have contributed significantly to the economic growth during the last decade. But employment opportunities have become scarce once more now that there are fewer infrastructures being made and there are even more disputes in the mining industry, with its effect being apparent through the number of homeless people who have made the streets their home.

Huge amounts of homeless people have been on tally in Port Moresby throughout the years, but the sudden increase and fluctuation has been alarming. And although joint efforts by the government and various NGOs have placed the situation under control, these initiatives have fallen short at times in the long run as the loss of jobs takes its toll on individuals and their families.

The Papua New Media Council Head and Post Courier Newspaper executive editor Alex Rheeney says of the situation during an interview with RadioNZ:

There have been pictures posted on social media of kids sleeping in front of the shops, but I think one of the interventions that the government did, I think the last time when it sort of seriously decided to address the issue of poverty on the streets of Port Moresby was just a month away from the Pacific Games last year when it decided that the kids will be taken in by various NGO partners and looked after for the duration of the games. And unfortunately just six to eight months on from the games, there seems to be an indication of more homeless kids on the streets.

While the government has done well in certain sectors due to “high global commodity prices”, Rheeney believes that this has not been felt or translated for the needs of those who are at the floor of the social class even though a lot of actions and plans have been undertaken by the government to offset this lack of employment as of the moment.

In a personal post he made in one of his social media sites, Rheeney explains that Papua New Guinea is in dire need of emphatic leaders who will evaluate the positives and negatives of policies that have been made and established.

He continues on to say that “all the construction that was connected to the construction phase of the PNG LNG project and then the South Pacific games infrastructure, there was a lot of employment, there were a lot of Papua New Guineans who basically benefited from the big government investment in infrastructure for the Pacific games but unfortunately now with the down turn in the global economy and the revenue that the government is getting from the exports has dwindled. So there are a lot of Papua New Guineans now who are out of jobs and who are struggling to actually make ends meet and we are seeing that manifest itself.”

On the other hand, this economic regress comes with plenty of opportunities to develop interesting projects from different sectors such as media, tourism, real estate, infrastructure and maybe even international investments and financial assistance which is similar to what ADB has been doing for the past years. We may even see an increase in the supply of properties which can lead to international interest because of lower property rentals and lower property purchase cost.

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