​Former ‘buai’ seller recounts tale

​Buai vendors in Port Moresby are mostly criticised for the litter in public places.

Sometimes, selling buai seems like their only option; until they see that there are other options.

Here is the story of 45-year-old Jopi Tiki from Penari village in Tari, Southern Highlands Province.

A subsistence farmer most of his life, he decided to try something new. This decision brought him to Port Moresby in 2009 where he commenced work as a security guard for a renowned private security firm. This job lasted for about 2 years before resigning for personal reasons.

Unemployed and without any other work experience, Jopi found life in Moresby relatively hard. He resorted to selling buai in 2012, in an effort to sustain himself and his family.

From experience, he says this life is hectic, demanding and risky.

Meeting the demand of the general public was rewarding and lucrative but it also had its disadvantages.

Jopi would make an average of K300-K400 per day if the market was right. Competition between sellers was tough. To get the first choice of customers, he would expose himself and sell at locations vulnerable to raids by the authorities. As a result, he was constantly being pursued by police and NCDC rangers, which posed the risk of imprisonment or being involved in an accident whilst trying to evade capture.

A full recovery after one of these encounters with authorities made him start pondering seriously about where he was going in life.

After that, he successfully secured a job at Vision City and has never looked back.

Doing something he has come to learn, Jopi can be seen as early as 7am cleaning the main entrance gates to Vision City.

“I can’t believe I used to live this life. All this garbage and people not caring about their city,” he said.

He does have confrontations with sellers he once stood with but does not back down in his effort to keep the external perimeter as clean as possible.  

A constant steady pay packet is also something he is grateful for.

Over the years, Vision City has tried different approaches in combating buai selling. Employing Jopi is the first-of-its-kind.

Gloria Bauai