This is a personal view based on Lae and Madang and is not representative of other centres.
For the last seven years, I have been talking about police housing to everyone who cares to listen including the Police Commissioner, governors, MPs and the Prime Minister.
On a Sunday in 2014, I requested the Police Minister, Robert Atiyafa, to go with me to the Bumbu Police Barracks in Lae to see the houses that were left incomplete. The minister was kind enough to oblige.
He promised an investigation into problem. But after five years, the houses at Bumbu Police Barracks in Lae are still unfinished and unoccupied.
Why has it taken this long?
Whenever I meet the Police Commissioner, Gari Baki, I ask the same questions. I think he’s already tired of me.
Reporting on the lack of police housing is not as glorious as political reporting. It’s dull and the same concerns are repeated over and over. But it’s important because of the people who suffer because of poor housing.
Recently, when we interviewed the longest serving police woman, Chief Sgt. Maria Euga, she mentioned how her house had no furniture. She lives in an old dilapidated fibro dwelling built at about the time she joined the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary. About 10 meters away, the new houses stand unfinished and unoccupied.
Policemen don’t complain about housing.
They joined a service that drummed into them, the value of service, despite all odds. I’ve tried to talk to them about housing many times and I get the same response: “We signed up for this job. We can’t complain about housing and conditions. We are servants of the state.”
Their wives and children suffer the most.
The roofs are leaking, the taps can’t be turned off. They use money from their salaries to fix what they can. When it rains, the sewerage overflows and comes into the yard where the kids play. Sometimes, water PNG, turns off the water to the barracks because of the non payment of bills.
They are some of the toughest women in Papua New Guinea.
The psychological and physical stress, these men and women of the RPNGC go through is incredible.
How do they stay motivated? What if this was the private sector? Imagine how many strikes we as a country would have to deal with.
But we don’t have any strikes by the RPNGC. If anyone had the right to complain about housing conditions, overwork, lack of transport and difficult working conditions, it would be the RPNGC.
Yet we get few complaints from them.
Everyone, especially in Lae and Madang should go into Bumbu and Kusbau Barracks and see how police families live.
They need our support and understanding to get the message out that they need help… because they won’t ask for it.