So easy to forget what a high degree of transportation safety we’ve reached here in the United States. I’m not talking purely in terms of vehicle safety—we also are fortunate to have law and order in areas surrounding roads. The lack of that sort of security is what enables folks to blockade entire Indian states, and make assaults on minibuses in Papua New Guinea a seemingly routine occurrence. A 19-year resident of the nation describes one such incident in this richly detailed account of a PMV ride to Madang:
It was dark and all I felt was shattering pellots of window glass all over my face and front, as my fellow passengers barked. It took a few second but I realised this explosion had been a rock and it barely missed my nose in a trajectory right across the sea and out through the opposite window. Such propulsion, it was impressive, and then very scary a I realised I was not hurt, had no blook anywhere, but had almost, by a hair’s breath, been beammed, maybe killed. The bus drove on a bit before stopping and everyone realized the windows were shattered, the owner’s father crying already about how this was a brand new bus (!), why did they do this, and people scrambling out, stompung the dark road, as we rawled ahead to where another PMV had stopped after passing us.
It looks bad, and my drunken co-riders are shouting, searching the seats for their bushknives and the roadside for heavy stones. I get out shaking my head and clothes, pleading for us to go on please and not to start a fight, to go to the police and send them back and all that. But no one listens. The engine is cut and all the riders are cross the culvert to the trees and behind, where I can hear screams rom the village, people yelping and barking and obviously arming themselves for a good fight.
There’s a reason that “suppression of banditry” has often ranked high on the agenda of central government. Unless people can move about their nation free of fear, what chance is there for peace and prosperity?
(Image via Drew Douglas)