April Edition week 4 2018.
Msw21: Settlement mapping
In recent times, there has been growing discontent among the local people over land issues in Madang town and the influx of squatter settlers, leading to evictions. While these issues have existed in the past, the people affected by them had lived in fragmented groups.
Towards the end of 2016, the rate of crime have been associated with Madang Urban settlements at Biliyau Maus Rot, 26, Public Tank, Mero Bridge, Abattoir, DCA, Kubai maus rot, Kerema compound, Gov.Sto, Karkar compound, Lain Banana, UPD, Wagol Pikus and Saw Dust are indicated as hotspots for violent crimes and social disorder in the communities.
Concentrated here is a circuit plotted with land grabbed settlements established on marsh waste land inside the Madang Urban boundary. Made up of a mixture of genuine settlers and land grabbled settlers, these settlements are occupied by ethnic groups particularly from Biwat, Yenjen, Kanganamun, Parambei, Angoram and Kambaramba where community violence and social disturbance is out of control. Home made brew is the number one option for income which can be easily manufactured from Yeast extract and sugar conveniently bought at the retail shops or wholesale. This adds on to the social problems of underage drinking and social problems in the community.
There are two rivers cutting through these settlements: Wagol and Mero which are polluted with garbage, plastic, scrap and raw sewage from make shift toilet huts scattered along the river that flows out into the Madang harbor. The rivers make ideal routes to escape from police by boat. Ferry boat stops at DCA, Paindamon Point, and Jant Bridge are accessible points from town to the Abattoir, Madang Airport, Ulifin Island, Pana and Siar coastline. Its close vicinity to the Madang central business areas like at Elvak, Nelrik, Modilon and Binen point, it provides escape destinations for criminals by boat. They can then travel by road or foot to Mero dump, Sisiak, Sagalau, Matupi, Siar, Nagada, or head further north to Bogia. This makes the task of pursuing criminals difficult for Police because of the need to change from one form of transportation to another and the harbouring of criminals by these settlements increases the associated risks of being attacked.
The perpetrators are made up of adult men and adolescent youths where lack of discipline and leadership in the communities create fear of attack by the perpetrators if reported; even to the extent that harassment, assault, rape, murder, damage to property and burning down of houses take place. Senior men, women and children feel supressed by these offenders who are harboured in the community itself. Fatalities and payback fights are all too common and reinforcement from clansmen are easily brought in by boat or road transport; adding yet to the increasing population of illegal settlers and urban drifters into Madang.
The settlements are becoming populated and more land grabbing is taking place. Since the massive eviction exercise in 2003 and 2012, the number of shacks popping up without any control over land issues has increased remarkably. Most of these houses are being built from scraps and timber which is more likely being smuggled out of Madang Timbers Ltd. an Asian owned timber company located along the Baidal road to the airport. It is located right in the centre of these settlement plots. After building the house, a legitimate electricity connection is done through PNG power ltd. A service line along the roads can be tapped in most cases, through bribery of PNG power electricians and then a series of illegal connections are made from one hut to another and everyone chips in to pay the easy-pay power bill.
Urban drifters continue to ride into Madang from the north and south coastlines by dingy while there is no monitoring and control of sea transits into town. Guns, drugs and contraband exchanges are easily smuggled on these routes and it is the normal mode of transport for criminals who need to get out of the province and or when the need arises for reinforcement during an ethnic clash.
Continued trends in crime from these areas of interest has affected the Madang town dramatically. There are various other ethnic settlement from the highlands region that also contribute to petty crimes and street selling in the town. Other regions have not been outlined here but they fall into a collective category of opportunists. Generally, Police in Madang are compromised, having wantoks or relatives residing in the settlements making the task of apprehension difficult and therefore resorting to less effective community policing strategies is a way of resolving issues. In September 2016, the killing of a man from East New Britain at the 26 area was investigated and the suspects were known. Arrests would soon be made but the communities from which these thugs breed were afraid to hand them over to the Police. Most times, the suspects break out of jail after being handed over to Police.
Now a days, we see a dangerous trend in urban settlement youths and village youths combining in mutual consumption, distribution and sale of marijuana and home brew as a useful commodity for getting money, even taking part in “Haus Man” initiations for sorcery and cult practices. Since the end of 2016, serious crime have progressed into the rural sectors to a stage where youths from settlements and the villages are collaborating in theft, armed hold ups, robberies at sea and on the highway. Murder is also seen to be more gruesome now a days with beheading practises associated with cult activities. This mode of operation is proving difficult for the little resources that the police have in pursuing these cases and the chances of the perpetrators escaping is more successful and community law and order restoration is more difficult.
But to have a more effective community policing in place inside the 10 urban wards would be strategic for the police and the provincial administration. A crime reporting platform would encourage more engagement from the public. In such a way, MSW-21 is an accessible community reporting platform for crime and security issues in the communities. Anonymous tip off and response to the report would be effective with a team of call centre operators with background in security and policing who are empowered to get a response from Police or security firms.
The strength of this strategy is the value of information collected from residents and other stakeholders about the issues and concerns of the community that can help inform police activities that are best suited to address these concerns.
This #msw21 concept opens a large window of opportunity for training and employment of civilian volunteers, police reservists and emergency response. The public is encouraged to join the team and support the Watch. Send a message or visit our website for applications.
Madang Security Watch