‘One city, one people, one future’: Port Moresby’s vision for 2030


With its estimated 760,000 population expected to grow by between 2.5 and four per cent annually, Port Moresby has a challenge to grow successfully. A new urban development plan outlines how it could be achieved.

A view from above of Waigani. Credit: BAI

This decade could prove key for developing of Port Moresby into one of the Pacific region’s most important capital cities and business hubs.

Aware of the city’s potential – the city’s informal economy alone turns over about K2 million per day – the National Capital District Commission has launched a new development plan, Port Moresby: Towards 2030.

Acknowledging the PNG’s capital city has grown ‘far beyond existing distribution networks of power, water and sewer’, the plan aims for a sustainable expansion to deliver a ‘peaceful and safe, smart and clean, and healthy and liveable city’.

This will be achieved by transforming settlements into suburbs, modernising existing suburbs and neighbourhoods, and developing affordable housing, infrastructure, transport, utilities and open spaces.

Settlements into suburbs

Migration from other provinces, as well as lack of affordable housing, has seen an ‘uncontrolled development’ of settlements (unplanned communities generally lacking access to drinking water, sewerage and public transport), the document says.

To tackle this problem, the new plan includes a program to transform the settlements by establishing streets and traffic circulation, creating utilities and infrastructure, developing and implementing stable land tenure arrangements to allow legal investment, and introducing health and education services.

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Other aims are: building shops and markets, metering of power, water, rates and taxes, new building standards to allow safe delivery of utilities, and the creation of a secondary housing market for the buying and selling of houses.

The plan also sees the expansion of the city’s roads and planning of a public transport network to make better connections across the city.

Affordable housing and city centres

Within the next 10 years, Port Moresby is expected have an additional population of between 210,000 and 480,000 people. The report notes it will need between 27,300 and 62,338 additional dwellings to satisfy housing demand.

A key to meeting the 2030 vision is the creation of houses in areas with existing infrastructure or where there is a concrete plan to develop new infrastructure, says the document. Current and new city centres are set to play an important role in guaranteeing access to public transport and green areas.

While the major urban centres of the National District Capital will continue to ‘develop and consolidate through well-designed infill development and improved public domain and public spaces’, the 2030 plan proposes, and supports, the creation of new urban hubs including: ‘a major centre, five strategic centres and 11 local centres … which vary in size depending on their activity mix, scale and location.’

The plan also includes three economic corridors (Boroko to Gerehu, 8/9 Mile to Dogura, and Konedobu to Town and Badili) to provide opportunities for people to access jobs, trade and services.

Jacksons International Airport, Motukea Port, Ravuvu Wharf and the Northern Gateway ‘Nibre’ are also considered in the document to help to provide opportunities for local and international trade.

Climate change

Sea level rises, increased rainfall and an increase in average daily temperature are predicted to have a significant impact on Port Moresby. According to the report, temperatures are expected to rise between 0.3 to 1.1 degrees Celsius by 2030 and sea levels are expected to be up by 150 mm.

Besides raising awareness of the role of wetlands, mangroves and other ecosystems to help prevent storm surges (floods), the plan aims to combat the effects of climate change by:

  • Giving maintenance to stormwater drains to prevent blockages
  • Replanting mangroves in degraded sites
  • Terracing and grass planting on hill slopes to reduce erosion
  • Keeping public and drainage reserves free of development and not approving any re-zoning

While the National Capital District Commission will be the primary body implementing the plan, the document notes that its 2030 vision will only be achieved if businesses, residents, the wider community, the national government and NGOs work in unison to deliver integrated land-use, transport and utilities.


  1. Craig Bui Mana says

    On rural urban migration, especially to Port Moresby the capital, I have a conceptual framework of how we can link migration and development through a nuanced approach, especially for the semi-skilled rural-urban drifters. We need strong partnership support from the Multinational corporations in PNG and also some of our aid funds by donor countries can be redirected into this area. In this way we can stop the growing urban poverty and this will aid to solve other issues like law and order and health and hygiene issues in the city. I am a free lance consultant ready to offer my professional advice once engaged. I focus on business and development consultancy with special focus on migration and development nexus and on strategic policy analysis and intelligent research analysts. I can be contacted on 70956933 or email: bui.craigmana@gmail.com or can follow me on FB.

    Craig Bui Mana
    (M InSt. UOW, BA UPNG, Dip, ANU)

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