I have no intention of offending anyone with this post but I intend on speaking my mind. The topic says it all and if you don’t like it then I suggest you stop reading now. If not, then welcome to my thoughts.
It was only last November that I took my recreational leave and went to Manus. It had been years since I had last been there and simply thinking of going had sent me in a flurry of excitement. When we landed at Momote airport nostalgia set in. I had spend the best part of my youth (5 years) attending Papitalai Secondary School and the sight and smell of the area triggered memories of a time long gone. I had expected some things to change and I had hoped to see some familiar faces but what I saw came as a shock.
During my school days at Papitalai, Lorengau was a buzzing town. It was the social and economical hub of the Manus people. There were great market products, there were a number of respectably sized shops, video libraries, a public library, and there were even a couple of banks. Unfortunately, all that has now gone and the town is becoming a ghost town. It was also sad to see the town icons had lost their shine.
Pokapin Enterprise used to be the mantle of department stores in the province and I had always thought they would franchise out to other provinces. They had the best of everything and it was a sad feeling when I walked into the shop, expecting to get that same feeling I used to have, only to be upset that I longer felt that buzz. Unlike the old days, the store now literally feels dark and gloomy. But the saddest part is yet to come.
At one stage Harborside Hotel had been ranked as one of the best in the world. In fact they had won an award (I can’t recall which) and they provided top of the range service and facilities. It is truly unfortunate that today the hotel is rundown. The pool (when I was there) was nearly empty and had algae growing at the bottom, nearly all the air-conditioning units were fault and there has not been any renovation or repair work done for ages. Fortunately, the food is still superb.
There were some developments like a few new investors mainly Asians and a law firm. If a law firm sets up office in a small town like Lorengau then you definitely know that law and order is a problem and by the look of their building, I can only assume business is good.
I guess there are many factors contributing to the state of my beloved town with the high cost of fuel being the main one. Currently the price of a gallon of zoom (petrol mixed with oil) is about K35. This means that for some like me going home would cost K350 one way. For the average villager it would be too expensive even to bring produce to the market unless you live nearby and have something unique to sell. Fortunately, the provincial government has the power to change our fortunes.
We have the potential to become a popular tourist destination. However, our government (provincial) should start taking a proactive role and start promoting ourselves. Instigate cultural shows, invite people, provide incentives, these are just some things that we can do. Now, I am sure Manusians like me, who live in other provinces, are willing to help. But the government must take the lead.