By Sharlyne Eri in Lae
A Papua New Guinean man who once resorted to crime to make a living is now running a bicycle repair business.
Collin Kunan is a long-time resident of West Taraka, one of Lae’s urban settlements where petty crime is rife because of high unemployment.
Kunan said he gave up criminal activities because he saw no future.
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Unemployment, poor sanitation, and overcrowding are common issues in urban settlements and West Taraka is no exception.
The population that really feel the pinch of these realities is the youth.
Most are school dropouts while others could not continue because of school fee issues.
Left with no job opportunities, most resort to petty crime to survive.
Such was the case before for Kunan, now 45, who gave up that lifestyle to start a small bicycle repair business.
“If I do nothing I will pick up a gun and start stealing again. Since 2000, I made up my mind to work hard, make gardens to survive.”
Kunan started his business with repairing bicycles and now also sells bicycle parts – most of which he collects from rubbish dumps or from old bicycles donated to him.
As someone who is just starting this small business, Collin Kunan said he was not aware of SME grants from the government, saying there should be more awareness.
For now, Kunan says there are no big plans for his business as yet but he says he is glad he chose this life over resorting to crime.
Sharlyne Eri is a reporter for EM TV News, Lae. Asia Pacific Report republishes articles in partnership with the Pacific Media Centre.