Suburban risk

Time to pay for vital services

THE fire which destroyed a significant part of Hanuabada Village in Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby, is a stark reminder to the region of the need for functioning, well-equipped emergency services. Villagers were left with little more than the clothes on their backs after the blaze ripped through 15 homes in the densely populates area.

With homes built of highly combustible wood, thatch and cardboard and fanned by a strong easterly breeze, the intense fire spread quickly. There was little chance for residents or the PNG Fire Service to save homes or property. Instead firefighters took the sensible, practical stance of ensuring that the blaze was contained and that damage was minimised. Two days after the initial fire, three more houses were razed and residents formed a bucket brigade to control the situation and prevent more homes from being burned.

The customary landowners living in Hanuabada Village come from the Motu and Koitabu tribal groups. They live in cramped and squalid conditions in the village as their traditional lands in Port Moresby have been used to develop the capital. Around many of the Pacific’s major towns and cities, communities like Hanuabada have developed to provide housing for displaced landowning communities or as homes for sometimes itinerant workers.

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