This sentiment was echoed by the Premier of Western Province, honorable David Gina.
Mr Gina said that population mobility is a contributing factor to the spread of Coronavirus in other countries around the world.
Therefore, he said it is time all provincial urban centers are nurtured and given the opportunity to grow to support their people and give economic offerings to their people.
“Provincial authorities must encourage their people to return home rather than converging into other provinces and the national government must create major economic development packages in all provinces in the quest to draw back people to develop their own urban or economic centers,” the provincial premier said.
He said nation building is not converging to a major cosmopolitan center.
“It is more so diverging to province of origin and peripheral regions thus dissipating crime and public nuisance and spreading the benefits to marginalized areas,” Mr Gina said.
“It is well known that internally displaced populations not only encroach on town lands but compete for services and in so doing, give rise to crime and public nuisance.
“Just like many provinces in the country, Noro and Gizo are already experiencing squatter settlements and also on the increase are public nuisances and anti-social activities.”
He said an example of how provincial urban centers can grow is when investors or businesses operating in these centers give priority to employing people from the hosting province.
He said such measures will enable balance in the distribution of economic activities among the population pool within each of the provinces.
Unfortunately, he said this is yet to be achieved and Western Province will not be taking this issue lightly or for granted because when disaster strikes such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the burden falls only on a few authorities.
“Natural catastrophes such as cyclones, earthquakes, bush fires, droughts, famines, floods, landslides and diseases epidemics fall under the responsibility of few authorities and due to the imbalance of population pool, the responsibility towards disasters such as the current COVID-19 pandemic is almost impossible to cope with,” Mr Gina said.
By TERENCE ZIRU