By Sylvester Gawi – EM TV, Lae
The growing number of illegal settlements sprouting all over Lae city is being condemned by residents and natives of the industrial city.
Lae has been hit with a rise in criminal activities over the last 12 months, from rape cases to murder, robbery and petty crimes marring the city’s image.
One such squatter settlement is the Banana block, along the cassowary road in Lae.
It is one of the fastest growing settlements in Lae, with people living as far as the banks of the Bumbu River.
Only a few of these people have jobs in the city, however many generate their income from the informal sector, such as through the sale of betelnut, and other small businesses.
Petty criminals have used this place to attack nearby residents for their shopping bags, mobile phones and other valuables.
In September, a young man was attacked and killed by petty criminals along this section of the Cassowary road.
Police have arrested five people including two females and a teenage boy.
Two weeks ago, a 17-year-old boy, was killed by petty criminals at the Boundary road suburb.
The perpetrators were from the Sialum compound settlement.
An attack on a PMV crew last week at Bumayong, has also resulted in PMV Buses going on strike in Lae.
On Thursday a naked body of a woman was found at the DCA waterfront, presumed to be raped and then murdered.
The problem is not only prevalent in Lae, Madang town has been faced with similar law and order problems.
Police have described illegal settlements, as being the centre of homebrew production and other illegal activities used to generate income by the squatters.
Gambling, prostitution and trading of illegal drugs are just of the many contributing factors.
These problems have been ongoing and authorities have to seriously look at addressing them at the community level.