By PETER ESILA
YOU may have walked past Benson Odu at the Koki fish market without noticing him, or more importantly, the task he is assigned to do every day.
Benson, 39, is one of those hired to look after the safety and security of people who come to buy fish at the popular market. Insignificant maybe to some, but to him it is a responsibility he wants to do to the best of his ability.
Benson’s mother is from Kerema in Gulf and his father is from Abau in Central. He has four children – two boys and two girls. All are in school. The eldest son is 16.
After his marriage broke down, he decided to move on for the sake of his children.
He had left school after Grade Nine at Don Bosco in 1996.
“It’s a long time ago when I left school. If I hadn’t left school, I could be somebody right now.”
He even joined the street children in Port Moresby and got involved in bad things. He decided to change his path by doing something positive and worthwhile for himself. Benson today works under the market management as a security guard. He is there every day to ensure the safety of vendors and customers.
“ For new visitors, it is safe to come. But always be alert and keep watch on your belonging. Put it in your car and lock it before going inside the market. Nothing will happen.”
“I joined the market management last year. I was doing nothing at home so I came here.”
The market used to be a haven for thugs who steal from customers, even assaulting vendors too. Today, thanks to Benson and his colleagues, the market is much safer.
Last year, a Philippine couple had their bags snatched from them. Benson chased the thugs and recovered the bags.
The market is now a go-to place for fresh sea food.
He keeps an eye out for expatriates and women who are by themselves. He also looks after the vehicles at the car park.
“There is nothing to worry about now because most of the boys, about 20 of them, also clean fish bought by the customers. They too make sure that customers do not get robbed or attacked.
“It is okay here now. I see a lot of businesspeople, expatriates come here to get fresh fish. Some who had been afraid to come before feel safe now to buy fish at the market.”
Benson and his colleagues are earning a living by making sure the market is safe for everyone.
“For new visitors, it is safe to come. But always be alert and keep watch on your belonging. Put it in your car and lock it before going inside the market. Nothing will happen. The boys earn money by cleaning fishing too. They do not have any other job. The market management came up with this idea for boys to clean fish to at least earn something. Life is hard. It’s a struggle if you are doing nothing.”
His priority is his children. He has turned his life around for their sake. He wants them to have a better future. For Benson personally, life has its ups and down but one must move on.
“Life is like that. My mum and dad they did not earn much but we just hung in there.”
He has learnt from that experience.