By DOREEN POLOH WAIM
MORE than 100 teachers were left frustrated and stranded in Lae during the weekend after they failed to collect their travel reimbursements.
The teachers, mostly from the New Guinea Islands, Oro and Milne Bay provinces were required to produce their ship tickets and a list of their names from the education division to the Rabaul Shipping agency to receive their refunds.
They decided to get reimbursements from their travel fares because their traveling allowances were not paid in full.
The education division only met their travels to towns but not to their respective districts where they were suppose to spend their holidays, the teachers said.
As early as 8am last Saturday, the teachers fronted up at the agency, only to wait in vain as the education officer who had promised to meet them with the list and tickets did not turn up.
When they contacted the provincial education advisor Muriki Bihoro, they learnt that he was out of the province.
He advised them that the list and tickets were with one of his officers. When the officer was called, he told them that the list was with the Mr Bihoro’s secretary.
The annoyed teachers said they had waited for two weeks to get their refund and half of their leave funds were already exhausted.
One of the teachers said it seemed that the officers from the education division were ‘passing the buck’ and were not willing to assist them.
They questioned why K3.3 million was allocated for their leave fares but the education division could not meet their full travel allowance.
Head teacher of Gabensis primary school Isaac Dau, who spoke on behalf of the teachers, said their leave fare was a recurring issue and urged the provincial administration to investigate and address it.
Mr Dau said most of the teachers had travel from remote schools to the city and were left stranded because of incompetent officers from the education division.
The teachers have demanded a full overhaul of the education division and said to lay a formal complaint to police if the education division did not address the issue.