In PNG 20,000 private security guards outnumber the combined forces of the police and army by 3 to 1 – and the majority are employed by mining and gas companies…
400+ Companies For Security Boom In PNG
Josua Tuwere | Fiji Sun
The Chaos Company is in Papua New Guinea. That’s the description given by Vanity Fair, in its April 2014 feature story on multinational security consultancy G4S.
The London-based firm boasts it is now the largest international security company and the largest security provider in PNG. On its website it highlights that it is the only accredited aviation security service provider in PNG.
According to the website it to has over 4,800 employees, with a strong network of offices spread throughout the country. Their operating offices are in Port Moresby, Lae, Goroka, Madang, Mt Hagen, Rabaul with satellite offices in Ramu, Kimbe andproject offices opening soon in Buka, Arawa and Popondetta. G4S, like other international security companies operates in other troubled areas, particularly Africa. The 2014 Vanity Fair article highlights G4S work in South Sudan, where their operatives work with the United Nations (UN) in ordnance disposal.
According to PNG’s Security Industry Authority (SIA), G4S is just one of 400 companies competing for work in the Pacific Island nation. So what exactly do these companies do?
Security work in PNG
- asset protection duties,
- guarding residences
- guarding businesses
- VIP escorts
- guarding the logging, agro industry, mining and petroleum sites.
- gold bullion escorts using planes and helicopters from the mine sites
- providing security to the PNG ports, airports
- providing security to other important government offices.
Even Fijian private security contractors with impressive resumes from work in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya will have to carve out their own niches in PNG.
The easy way for Fijians is to join a company already working in PNG. Setting up Fiji-based outfits to facilitate work in PNG will mean competing against behemmoths like G4S and Australia-based Wilson Security which oversees work in Australia, New Zealand, PNG and Nauru.
Despite this, PNG is still considered rich pickings for expatriate security contractors.
SIA points out that the lack of a local private security academy means the 20,000 local security guards employed by the mining and gas companies in PNG do not meet international benchmarks.
The core of these guards are ex-PNG Constabulary, PNG Defence Force and the Correctional Services.
The minimum wage for security contractors is $F1.76 or K2.29 an hour. Even then the SIA has handled complaints from PNG nationals about under-payment from employers. Dealing with expatriate security contractors is another matter.
Security work pay
This writer remembers conversations with ex-Fiji policemen working in security at the Gold Ridge Mine in Honiara, Solomon Islands. They revealed a daily wage of $F400 ($AUD250) plus regular trips to Brisbane, Australia for holidays.
Security companies in PNG remain tightlipped about remuneration for their staff, however, Fijians should expect comparable pay to their countrymen in the Solomons’, maybe higher given the risk factor, if they end up with a reputable company.
Fijians of course, are cheap labour when it comes to the security labour market.
Unless of course you’re a Fijian operator who happens to own the local franchise for a multinational security company and earn a decent six-figure sum in commissions.
Ex-South African army officers working as specialists in ordnance disposal for G4S easily command $F15,000 a month for their work. Ex-British SAS freelancers charge a minumum of $F1500 a day for work in Iraq.
Unlike hotspots like Iraq and Afghanistan, there are still a lot of positives working in PNG.
Fijian involvement goes back to the early 20th Century when Fijian missionaries laid down their lives for the Gospel in New Britain.
The sizeable Fijian community, mainly based in Port Moresby, means local comforts for Fijian security personnel won’t be too far away.
Fijians work for Air Niugini, in manufacturing, finance, construction, civil society, sports, recreation and hospitality.
Maybe it might be time for another Vanity Fair article on how Fijians are helping boost the economy of their Pacific Island neighbour.