When the police commissioner, Garry Baki visited Open Bay Rural Police Station recently, Sergeant Ben Tokalau had no idea what the commissioner would say to him.
After the usual traditional welcome by the local people, the commissioner was given a walk-through at the run down rural police station.
After a brief inspection of the police station, the Commissioner, amidst a crowd of curious onlookers, announced that Ben Tokalau has been field promoted.
“ Today, I promoted your police man from a senior constable to a sergeant. He is now a sergeant,” the commissioner told the people who gathered in front of the police station.
Last Friday, sergeant Tokalau made a three-hour journey by road along the New Britain highway to Kokopo to get his new set of stripes, pinned to his shoulder strap, that officially recognized him as a sergeant.
“ I see this promotion as a recognition on how I have manned the police station all by myself …and I am happy,” Sergeant Tokalau said.
For Sergeant Tokalau, his hard work and commitment, finally paid off last Friday.
He spent almost 8 years of his career, as a lone police officer in this remote police outpost after moving here in 2008.
And for him, providing law and order to more than 4,000 people of this isolated region, wasn’t an easy one.
“I must commend him for his job because he has been there all these years when there was no road. But he was there giving service to the people”, said Anton Billy, the Assistant Commissioner police for the NGI Region.
Despite the harsh realities of poor road infrastructure and education for his children, Sgt. Tokalau didn’t give up his job.
For the police hierarchy, they say getting a police officer to serve in a remote location is very difficult.
Sgt. Tokalau hopes his story would set a benchmark for his colleagues who are hoping to make a way up the police ranks.
Getting promoted is not what he asked for he said.
But he said his commitment to his constitutional duties has surely not gone unnoticed.