(Before I start this section I want to emphasize that the majority of people in PNG do not fall into this category despite what some news agencies might lead one to believe. I am always thankful I teach, I get to see the best of the best :-))
You can’t live in PNG without knowing the victims of a variety of criminal attacks. This takes it toll on even the most hardened Ex-pat. I don’t think I can even accurately list all my friends and acquaintances who’ve had ‘incidents’ in the past three years. These range from in-home robberies / attacks, to hold-ups, knifings and murder of students.
The perpetrators are termed ‘raskols’ (rascals)- while this term might sound ‘innocent’ it covers all level of criminals. Crime is often performed by gangs and is often done as payback. (Gang/pack rape is not uncommon). Crime is rarely adequately addressed in courts, some gets handled ‘behind the scenes’…
Local advice focuses on these strategies:
- Keep doors locked ALL the time (house and car)
- Avoid certain roads, i.e 6-mile thru 12-mile… (these change so ask around, and in reality isn’t always possible)
- Always carry a cell phone (charged and with credits), drive with it in reach of yourself.
- Avoid driving by yourself at night
- Keep space between you and the car in front so you can make quick re-routing decisions.
- Pay attention when you are driving and look out for suspicious activity
- Drive in convoys with people you know if driving outside of Lae (if possible)
- Pay attention to warnings (Lae Chamber of Commerce sends out regular messages)
- Never go into land/village you don’t know without someone from that area! Most land is owned by a village and un-invited entry can be viewed as a threat.
This is not a fail-safe list, trust your instincts and listen to local knowledge on the subject. I often drove at night, by myself, against advice and my better judgement…all I can say on that is it was a bit like playing Russian Roulette, not fun, nerve racking, and not the smartest thing I’ve done… However, I had to do what made it a livable place for me and sometimes my need for independence won out.