In Papua New Guinea shanty-towns, residents question APEC legacy

In Papua New Guinea shanty-towns, residents question APEC legacy

Barely a five-minute drive from the 50 million dollars conference venue for the just-concluded Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea’s capital, a makeshift squatter settlement is tucked away from visiting world leaders, Reuters reports.

The Wanigela settlement in Port Moresby looks out directly over APEC Haus, but might as well be a world away.

With the South Pacific nation’s rainy season looming, Wanigela’s thousands of residents are packed together in overcrowded and dilapidated dwellings with no sanitation and unreliable electricity supplies.

For all the hope and promise the APEC summit would put PNG on the world stage – and attract investment that will translate into jobs and infrastructure – many are questioning how such an international event will benefit their everyday lives.

“The government says APEC is going to improve our lives, but I don’t know, because our politics is not trustworthy,” said Bradley Kalau, 31, who has been unemployed for two years. “We find it very difficult because of a lack of education. It’s hard to find jobs and put bread and butter on the table.”

Close to half of Moresby’s population of around 310,000 live in informal or squatter settlements, according to a 2015 study by the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility.

The impoverished communities suffer from chronic unemployment and are prone to crime and gang violence, laying bare the socio-economic problems that will persist long after the APEC leaders depart.

Kalau lives in a small wooden stilt-house perched on the rocky shores of Ela Beach, around a kilometer from an upmarket resort that hosted numerous APEC delegations.

He lives under one roof with his wife and 30 other relatives spanning four generations, including siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews.

“The style we are living right now, it can change,” Kalau’s younger cousin Junior Kalau said. “Everything. Us getting jobs. We need our own house.”

PNG, roughly the size of California, has more than 7.3 million people scattered over its mountainous interior and hundreds of small islands.

While rich in minerals, timber, fish and energy resources, most rural people live subsistence lives and annual per capita GDP is around $3,600 a year, according to the IMF.

Moresby’s shanty settlements, some decades-old, are mostly home to migrants from other parts of PNG who move to the capital to escape rural poverty and seek better access to social infrastructure including education and healthcare.

But a severe shortage of jobs and affordable housing has seen settlement populations swell out of control, with multiple families often sharing one roof, mostly pooling incomes from odd jobs and selling produce at street markets.

Many in gainful employment are also forced to live in ramshackle settlement dwellings.

Despite holding down a respectable civil servant’s job with the national postal service, Banian Masiboda said “reasonable housing” remained out of reach.

Masiboda said too many people attracted by the “bright lights” of Port Moresby arrived unprepared.

He said many questioned the wisdom of spending big on APEC when then were more immediate priorities to address at home.

At the meeting, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan did announce a $1.7 billion plan to ensure most of PNG had access to electricity by 2030.

Still, the view among many in the settlements was that APEC catered to the political ambitions of the elite while neglecting the masses. That was only reinforced when security personnel forced their way into parliament to demand unpaid wages, just two days after the summit ended.

“We did not look after own backyard first, but then we boldly stood up and said ‘Yes, we can host APEC’,” Masiboda said.

The forum’s chairman, PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, said in his closing remarks at APEC that the region had to focus on reducing trade barriers to ensure prosperity for all people.

“APEC leaders continue to focus on efforts trying to reduce inequalities,” he told reporters in Port Moresby on Sunday.

In the nearby squatter settlements, communities feel the gap between rich and poor is as great as it’s ever been.

“If we feed our own mouths, there won’t be any crime,” Bradley Kalau said.

“We feel left out. We are rich in our natural resources, but we are beggars in our own country.”

Disney to layoff about 32,000 workers in first half of 2021
Disney to layoff about 32,000 workers in first half of 2021
India records 44,489 new coronavirus cases
India records 44,489 new coronavirus cases
Amazon workers in Germany to go on strike on 'Black Friday'
Amazon workers in Germany to go on strike on 'Black Friday'
Loading Bars
Average monthly salary in Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan rises
Azerbaijan, Afghanistan FMs discuss latest situation in region
WB, AIIB to fund rural infrastructure development in Uzbekistan
Azerbaijani, Indonesian FMs stress importance of trilateral ceasefire statement
Austria fully supports Uzbekistan obtaining of EU’s GSP beneficiary status
Turkmenistan's Dashoguz region opens tender for installation work
France not part of Karabakh settlement, but part of problem - Turkish defense minister
Japanese companies to provide technical support for terry production in Uzbekistan
Germany's hotspot district to launch COVID-19 mass tests for children
Yield of citrus fruits in Azerbaijan up
Capital of Kazakh companies operating in Turkey revealed
Iran boosts its pistachio exports
World Economic Forum announces Azerbaijan's road quality score
Share of assets in Azerbaijani banking sector declines
Kazakhstan eyeing amending legislation to support renewable energy dev't
Georgian Hualing Free Industrial Zone plans to finalize deal with 4 new companies
Mortgage lending in Azerbaijan through state line grows manifold
Kazakhstan to launch hundreds of industrial projects before year-end
Azerbaijani ICT company wins tender on purchase of licenses
Central Bank of Azerbaijan discloses data from foreign exchange auction
Employment in Iran's West Azerbaijan Province increases
Buta Airways to Increase the Frequency of Flights Performed to Izmir
Azerbaijan, Hungary discuss possibilities of attracting investors to liberated territories
Georgian Huliang FIZ offering available land plots to potential investors
Azerbaijani NBCO talks about its activities amid coronavirus
Azerbaijan’s carpet producer signs tender contract
Many members of French Senate unaware war in Karabakh ended (VIDEO)
Number of people infected with coronavirus pandemic in Iran exceeds 900,000
Baku Stock Exchange admits local investment company
Uzbekistan eyes to set up local production of various vaccines
France does not deserve Azerbaijan’s confidence – senator
Bahar Azadi gold coin price still falling in Iran
Bank mortgages in Azerbaijan rise
Full text of Azerbaijani parliament’s statement against French Senate’s resolution
Iran's economy remains strong and steady – Iran's president
Turkmenistan to be vital strategic partner, gas supplier to China long-term - Wood Mackenzie
EDB talks Kazakhstan's economy growth forecast, return to pre-COVID levels
Ambassadors of Turkey, Iran to Azerbaijan hold discusses on Karabakh
“I am quite sure that giving a hand to customers in this challenging time will pay off in the future”: interview with Dariusz Kacprzyk, Member of Supervisory Board of AccessBank Azerbaijan
Import of Turkish ready-made clothes by Iran down
Water resources of Azerbaijan’s Kalbajar district to be re-explored
Turkey's export of ready-made clothes to Uzbekistan down
Money supply in Azerbaijan grows - CBA
Lending to banking sector in Azerbaijan up
Turkmenistan raises 10M2020 imports of Turkish ready-made clothes
Uzbek gas chemical company opens tender for insurance services
Precious metal prices in Azerbaijan up
Azerbaijan’s natural gas exports to Turkey down by 8%
German manufactures interested in buying high-quality walnuts in Georgia
New carpet factory opens in Turkmenistan
German company builds float glass plant in Uzbekistan’s Zarafshan city
Iranian oil minister talks about petrochemical facilities launched in Iran
Azerbaijan can't be pressured by adopting some paper piece - parliament's vice speaker
Azerbaijani parliament voices appeal to government due to France
Azerbaijan to implement digitalization of services of local executive authorities
French Senate betrays democratic values - Turkish government
China's import of Turkish cement up
Azerbaijani parliament condemns resolution adopted by French Senate
AP highlights devastation caused by Armenia in Azerbaijan’s Aghdam
Azerbaijan's ADY Express boosts daily volume of cargo handling at Astara terminal
Turkish Foreign Ministry condemns French Senate’s resolution on Karabakh
French Senate's resolution is not binding, says ambassador
Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications developing final strategy of 'Smart City' project
Protesters give statement in front of French embassy in Baku (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Integration of modern solutions contributes to growth of online sales - MiMobile
Georgia eyes to minimize negative impact of global crisis on country's private sector
Int’l standard of energy management system to be introduced at Uzbekneftegaz facilities
LUKOIL to restore daily gas production in Uzbekistan
Turkmenistan building new greenhouses
Georgia reports 3,801 new cases of coronavirus
Azerbaijan's parliament to make statement on draft resolution adopted by French Senate
Israel changed plans to buy AstraZeneca vaccine
Azerbaijan to provide grants, loans, investments to startup environment
Minister talks benefit of pipeline from Russia to supply some Kazakh regions with gas
Uzbekistan to launch numerous petrochemical industry projects in 2021
Measures to attract investors to Uzbek mining, geological industry discussed at int’l forum
NCOC reports yet another milestone at Kazakhstan-based Kashagan field
Georgia looking for contractor for terminal extension at Kutaisi International Airport
Kazakhstan boosts trade turnover with Lithuania despite COVID-19
Snam raises planned investments in new strategy
Snam raises its emission reduction target to 50%
Number of enterprises launched in Iran's East Azerbaijan Province decreases
US Venture Fund to bring Azerbaijani projects to int'l markets
Azerbaijani oil prices on the rise
Turkmenistan, EU discuss prospects for development of greenhouses
French PROPARCO taking steps to support Georgian micro, small and medium-sized enterprises
Possible changes to OPEC+ quotas pose downside risks to Kazakhstan's economic forecast
Iran discloses details of exports from Razavi Khorasan Province
Income from communication services of Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan up
Broad money value goes on increasing in Kazakhstan month-on-month
Snam outlines contribution to TAP’s implementation
Disney to layoff about 32,000 workers in first half of 2021
Iran declares details of exports from Qom Province
Southern Gas Corridor could carry new sources of energy in future – Eurogas
Kazakhstan’s Almaty Power Stations JSC extends tender to buy compressors
Turkmenistan, Russia agree to expand co-op in electric power industry
Azerbaijan implementing projects within North-South Transport Corridor
Europe needs fundamental restructuring of its energy system, says Eurogas
INPEX using drone technology, augmented reality to keep smooth output
India records 44,489 new coronavirus cases
All news