Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Daru on the verge of something good

Canoes in Daru. -Picture by MALUM NALU
Daru is a place that has to be seen to be believed.
Wherever there is a large tidal range, it is usual to find at low tide mud flats, rock pools and a general air of desolation.
True, at Daru, there are mud flats and rock pools.
But desolation is not the word for the waterfront of the capital of Western province.

Every day, outboard motor-powered dinghies and sailing canoes come in from outlying villages.
The passengers are coming to town for a variety of reasons: those from nearby villages may be coming to work – an idyllic way to travel, provided there is a favorable breeze and no rain squalls; others may be bringing their produce to market.
Not that they are likely to do a booming trade – but it gives them a good chance to chinwag with their friends while waiting for a sale.
And then there is the entrepreurial class: fishermen with barramundi catches, prawns, lobsters, sea cucumber, or live dugongs and turtles for cutting up and sale at the water’s edge; farmers with pigs, again for sale on the beach.
Several canoes are anchored semi-permanently on the mudflats, floating homes at high tide.
There are no elaborate cabins on them, just a sail thrown tent fashion over the boom.
More permanent boat homes have sago palm roofs.
No one worries about privacy on the mud flats of Daru.
The town still has that frontier feeling from the colonial days still about, as I found out last week.
It is a place of fishermen, traders, crocodile shooters, conmen, smugglers, and so on.
Australia, specifically the Torres Strait islands, is closer to Daru than Port Moresby and the drug trade proliferates.
Things are pretty slow here and the people seem to be too busy chewing buai, smoking, chatting and drinking away than to cut the tall grass all over town.
That dismal image, however, may change soon with the development of the Daru Port.
Air Niugini is also looking at restoring Dash 8 services to Daru to compete with Airlines PNG.
Indeed, Daru is on the verge of greater things.

1 comment:

  1. Malum,
    I am sorry to learn of the tragic death of your wife, my sympathy to you and your children for your heartbreaking loss.

    I hope you are right about Daru. It has long been renowned as a backwater, and in my experience the reputation is not difficult to understand. Development of the port is a good start, but there remains much more to do after that.