Topic: Pacific Affairs

Think your commute is bad? Major mugging every 3 hours on PNG route

By Leo Horgan

PMV public transport operators with their vehicle- Papua New Guinea (Source: Māori Television).

Residents of the Papua New Guinea capital of Port Moresby have more reason than most to complain about their daily commute after reports that a major mugging incident occurs along the city’s Boroko-town route every three hours.

The findings, gathered by the country’s Post Courier newspaper from a variety of sources including police and an undercover reporter who travelled the route for two weeks, showed that the victims of the mugging spree were most often women and girls.

The journalist’s own experience included witnessing twice daily muggings, usually during the morning and evening commute.

PNG police have confirmed that a criminal syndicate has been operating along the route, preying on vulnerable victims after identifying easy targets travelling in the PMV vehicles which make up much of the Port Moresby public transport system.

Having achieved independence in 1975, PNG has struggled with issues of corruption and lawlessness.  PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has been embroiled in a series of scandals which in 2014 led to a warrant for his arrest being issued by anti-corruption police.   The warrant was later thrown out.

The recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, hosted in the country, stoked controversy and strike action after expensive vehicles were purchased by the government, ostensibly for visiting dignitaries.  PNG police, notorious in the country for heavy-handed behavior, also vandalised and looted APEC premises after the summit in a dispute with the government over unpaid bonuses.

In response to the muggings, police have asked Port Moresby residents, especially women, to be “wary” when travelling the route frequented by muggers and to avoid sitting in aisle seats.

(Credit Franklin Kolma - Papua New Guinea Post Courier)