The country is faced with a stark reality that affording suitable and low cost accommodation is inaccessible.
“Some of the (government) ministers can’t afford housing in Port Moresby alone,” National Planning Minister Charles Abel admitted to an audience in a Q and A in Port Moresby on Friday.
“It is simply not accessible to the ordinary person. It is far from accessible,” Abel said.
Public servants have testified in video interviews screened that getting paid as low as K700 a fortnight could not enable them to afford suitable accommodation and pay for other living expenses.One female admitted she sewed clothes in the evenings to sell and earn extra income.
Abel said the government has noted that inability to afford accessible or low cost housing is a cross cutting issue and the government has established a ministerial committee which he chairs to address it.
He said their aim was to plan the tasks to be achieved in short term and then long term and find solution to the issue.
Housing Minister Paul Isikiel was a panel member at the Q and A organised by the Economic and Public Sector Program funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Isikiel said: “As it is now we don’t have any more land to build people’s houses.”
“Housing is a very important issue,” he said.
Isikiel said they have secured 75,000 blocks of land to build low cost housing in Port Moresby.
Minister Abel concurred with Isikiel that land shortage was a hindrance to building affordable accommodation for people and it was critical that more land was “freed up” and allocated for housing development.
Abel said government intervention was very critical in addressing the issue.
Blogger and writer Martyn Namorong has challenged the two politicians that it was time government stop taking the housing issue lightly but take immediate actions to addressing it.
“A lot of this thinking has unfortunately not taken place,” he said.
“Everyone wants progress.”
Namorong added: “We are not building communities we are just building project areas and towns and cities but not communities where people can live.”
“Human beings have been classified as workers or squatter settlers,” he said.
Namorong stressed the government should holistically develop the well-being of people rather than bragging about economic growth and jobs.
He said the country was to consider which model of development was suitable for the country.
Namorong said the country’s population was growing at a rate of 2.25% and it was expected to the urban population would double by 2030. This would exert more pressure on the government to plan and develop affordable housing.
Minister Abel has said one of the country’s challenges in planning realistic development models was population pressure as well. H said it was critical people considered population control.