The old Lae City that had cinemas, popcorn, bikes, cabs and clean suburbs…

Last night when Lae MP, John Rosso, talked about what the Lae was like in the past, there were quite a few who nodded their heads in agreement.

They remembered a city with popcorn selling cinemas in Eriku, Town,  East Taraka and other suburbs.  There was a botanical garden, unfenced, with aviaries, ponds with goldfish, BMX bike tracks and ice cream trucks.

It was a city that had some of the most well planned suburbs in the country. 

Today, it is sometimes hard for my children’s generation to grasp the former glory of my city.  For me, when I depart from this earth, I hope to  have helped contribute to efforts that made  this City (and country) better than it was, or even GREATER  when it was when we were kids.

Early this month, when the Lae City Authority and the Lae Community organized the biggest bike race we have seen in decades, it brought a lot joy to children  and young adults. For their parents, a sense nostalgia.

We used to have  lots of BMX bikes. Lae’s roads  were  filled with kids with bikes.  Those bikes took us everywhere. It was how we  made new friends. It got us  working with our  hands with tools. We  learned how to fix the wheels and to repair damaged breaks and  to repurpose bike parts.

Now, In a space of two months, bikes came back.

Groups of kids are on the streets again, on bikes. In my own nostalgic mind.  I want to see people ride to school and live in a city that is a happy place to be.  

In East Taraka, the old cinema is now the Anglican Church. Across the road was a private clinic and next to it a post office and a few shops.  The streets were clean and the roads were sealed and well maintained.

There was a City Council that actually functioned! Imagine that. Not a City Council that earned a reputation as a corrupt financial sinkhole, high on the unenviable position, of the  IRC’s hit list.

I do hope we can work  that Lae City back to this reality. 

2 comments on “The old Lae City that had cinemas, popcorn, bikes, cabs and clean suburbs…

  1. Aaron Peter

    Growing up in West Taraka in 1994-1996, I still remember those now rundown some privately owned NHC houses orderly set with fully sealed streets having well functioned street lights. Kids play in the dark till late. Young girls and women were free outside at odd times. Now??

    We really need leaders who can restore Lae City. Leaders who can have PLANS.


  2. John Milba

    Thank you Scott, yes indeed East Taraka was the main center of the surrounding communities with shops, post office, clinic, cinema and the residential area of diverse ethnicity, as well as multinationals. Expatriates homes were located at the street opposite the main Unitech gate right down to Baptist Church at Ami Tatu street. And also from the United Church down to Girex street. The municipal services such as the garbage collection, and transportation (city route – Bus service) was very effective during that time. The garbage collection truck went right into all the small streets in East Taraka collecting garbages and even the buses went into the main street and out to the Unitech gate bus stop. Opposite the expatriates residence, there was Lae City Council garden, where the produced from the garden were sold to the East Taraka community as well the surrounding communities. And for the cinema, the latest movies were always screened in Eriku and Town first, and later to other cinemas like East Taraka. Movie – ‘Bobby Tear Drops’ was the movie that attract everyone both young and old, and broke their hearts back then.


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