Yesterday about lunchtime I happened to look across the Harbour from my office and this was what I saw. I had no idea where the smoke was coming from and whether it was a fire or something else. Perhaps one of these days I’ll find out for sure. We kept on guessing what it was and so many different answers. As the lunchtime blues took over, the black smoke was soon forgotten.
I ran across to a neighbouring office and asked my colleagues if I could take a picture of the black smoke coming our way. They looked surprised to see me with my camera and wondered what I was referring to until I pointed out the black smoke wafting its way across the green hills and blue green sea on the other side of the Harbour. One of them exclaimed that they had never seen anything like that before in Port Moresby. Well, it might as well be all of us.
Another colleague remarked that ‘they’ whoever that was were burning oil! I looked at her and deep in my gut I somehow felt that this beautiful Harbour could one day be a dumping ground for all the stuff we never ever want to see dumped in the sea especially as it is going to spoil the environment and the livelihoods of traditional communities around the Harbour area. The sea would disappear then what?
My thoughts and eyes slowly turned to the peaceful villages across the the reclaimed land – Hanuabada, Elevala and Tatana. I wondered if they are looking at the black smoke too. Have they seen black smoke before or was it something new they’d have to live with. In fact, all of us downtown Port Moresby residents for that matter – for some during working hours.
Gradually it disappeared just as suddenly as it appeared. I wondered how long before this would become a common sight. I banished the thought from my mind.
I spotted the speedboat in the foreground and wondered if whoever was in the boat was conscious of the black smoke and whether it bothered them. I wondered how people in the marina at the Royal Papua Yacht Club, on the other side of the container wharf, felt about this black smoke.
Gone are the days of innocence when the environment around the Harbour had open spaces, spectacular views of the sea, the beaches and a clear blue green sea. I recalled the picnics at Idlers Bay and wondered if the recreational area had been affected in terms of broken tranquility of the sandy beaches and a murky sea which was once clean and warm to swim in. Those were the most enjoyable weekends in the early ’80s.