Papua New Guinea
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Make districts attractiveto live in

The move by the National Capital District Commission (NCDC) to reintroduce the Vagrancy Act is gaining huge traction in the community.

Social media platforms are on fire, with commentators discussing the political, social and economic implications on the move by NCD Governor Powes Parkop and the impact on our people who have left their birth places for various reasons to come to Port Moresby.

We have to bear in mind that the original Vagrancy Act 1977 was declared unconstitutional by the PNG Supreme Court in 1986 because that law interfered with the individual rights of people and we are sure the NCDC is aware of this.

Rights are not the only issue that is of concern here, there are other serious considerations that the NCDC must take into account. For instance, how does the NCDC intend to implement this Vagrancy Act? Not everyone who has come into Port Moresby and residing in the informal settlements are trouble makers.

We note that Governor Parkop wants to send those who are doing nothing and causing problems in the city back to their home provinces. It is true that in the city today, there are many people who have lived in Port Moresby for years but never educate their children and never work at jobs that advance their lives but give Port Moresby a bad name by engaging in small market activities that are breeding grounds for petty crimes as well as destroying the image of the city.

As the city boss, Parkop has the prerogative to remove any trouble maker, as a national leader, he must know that he is only relocating the problem and that is not solving anything.

What is happening to Port Moresby is very unfortunate but how else did we expect our people to behave when governments have failed to invest heavily in the districts to build their capacities to fuel economic growth and enable our people to participate meaningfully in the economy, enjoy good education and health services and live peaceful and secure lives.

Our people are coming into the cities and towns every day in huge numbers due to poverty, tribal fighting and sorcery related problems or simply because they want to give better opportunities to their children.

And if they are forced to return home, what are they returning to?

Rural to urban migration and the challenges this creates is not a new problem. And PNG is not the only country that faces this problem. To find long lasting solutions requires a holistic government approach.

Apart from Powes Parkop, other political leaders including the Prime Minister James Marape should be concerned. They know who is creating the problems in Port Moresby and elsewhere.

They also know why they have left their villages to come to the cities and towns.

The discussion on the Vagrancy Act provides the perfect opportunity for the Members of Parliament to look at how they have been serving their people and to really do something good and great for them.

The time has arrived. They must provide better economic opportunities, better education and health services, ensure food security, and ensure law and order for their people in their rural electorates.

We have had 48 years to do that and we failed to deliver. We are paying the price now.

Money should never be the excuse because K10 million has been going to the districts every year for many years and the funding will continue under the District and Provincial Services Improvement Programs.

Let us put this money to good use to keep our people in their districts. Otherwise, the Vagrancy Act will not work. Parkop can remove the people at huge cost now but they will come back.