Growing migration in Solomons capital causing unemployment and criminality
Growing migration into the Solomon Islands capital is leading to more unemployment and criminality.
Growing migration into the Solomon Islands capital is leading to more unemployment and crime.
More and more people, in particular young adults, are leaving their subsistence lifestyles in the outer islands in search for easier lives and better jobs in Honiara.
Beverley Tse explains how many find the opposite of what they're searching for.
Here during work hours on the main streets of Point Cruz, young people crowd shop entrances, chewing betel nut and socialising. Many don't have work and opportunities in the city are few. In the 2009 census Honiara had a population of 64,600 people. The Honiara City Council Clerk, Charles Kelly says that figure is now beyond 65,000.
CHARLES KELLY: These people are Solomon Islanders. They come from all over the country and they are mostly school drop outs, secondary and primary, etc. But because Honiara is very attractive, it's a fast growing, moving city so people are coming in looking for opportunities.
The founder of the non-government organisation, Solomon Islands Development Trust says many of these people end up living in cramped dwellings with their extended families and struggle to find employment. John Roughan says some return to the outer islands but others turn to crime for survival.
JOHN ROUGHAN: It doesn't take a very major step to go to ways of picking up money illegally. Growing marijuana is one of the ways, pick pocketing is another way, shoplifting.
This worries some members of the Chinese community who believe they are easy targets because they own retail stores. The president of the Chinese Association, Matthew Quan, says different types of crimes are being committed against Chinese people such bag snatching and extortion.
MATTHEW QUAN: Coming up to the shops and even asking for money and saying, 'You've done this or you've done that'. When we had a problem with the beche-de-mer, you know you'll get someone who comes and sells you beche-de-mer, and someone will be coming from behind saying, 'Well, it's against the law so we're going to prosecute you for it'. So they're changing the way they do things and you know, the type of crime that's happening, that we get exposed to a lot more.
With 60 percent of the Solomon Islands population under the age of 25, the city clerk Charles Kelly says the council has been trying to generate more jobs for young people.
CHARLES KELLY: We have a project called the Rapid Employment Project. It is under the World Bank. And the project is targeted to the unemployment, especially school drop-outs. And we are giving them opportunities for jobs, cleaning the streets of Honiara.
But John Roughan says the project is not a complete solution.
JOHN ROUGHAN: I don't like to pick up somebody else's rubbish, many of us don't like that. Now if it was leading to a change in attitude and then behaviour, I do, because it becomes a demonstration effect. But simply doing it and coming back and finding the same mess that I did yesterday is not only discouraging but there's something wrong with the planning.
A businessman and former board member of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands, Yoshiyuki Sato, says more foreign investors are needed to create mass employment.
YOSHIYUKI SATO: We need investment with the proper skills, the proper money, not investment where people come in and do the jobs that Solomon Islanders can do. We need investment where they will be able to skill those trade skills, all other skills and skill up Solomon Islanders.
Yoshiyuki Sato says the government needs to create the right environment and processes so investors are confident about where their money is going.
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