Teachers unhappy over travel arrangements

National, Normal

THE Morobe education division is helpless in trying to sort out the travel arrangements for teachers going by road or sea.
Yesterday, more than 300 teachers fronted up at the education office demanding answers to their travel and leave entitlements.
Many complained that the department’s travel arrangements were not in line with each individual’s travel arrangements.
Under the arrangements, teachers travelling to the Highlands provinces would be transported by contracted PMV operators to their nearest home town.
For those travelling to places such as Madang and the Sepik provinces, buses were arranged to transport them to the nearest port were they are given ship tickets to travel to the nearest town.
Provincial education adviser Murika Bihoro said the arrangements were done according to the limited funds available.
“The department was given K3 million for travel arrangements and if we want fly teachers to their villages, we need K6 million – money the division does not have,” Mr Bihoro said.
The teachers disagreed and demanded that these arrangements are cancelled and instead cashable cheques given to them so that they could make their own way home.
Mr Bihoro said it would be against the Teaching Service Act and the Public Finance Service Act to give out cashable cheques.
“With this arrangement, it means that to travel to my village located on the upper Sepik River, I will get on a bus to Madang and then travel for one night on the ship to Wewak where the travel allowance ends.
“But my journey still continues as I will again travel by PMV to Angoram and then get on a hire boat and travel for another six hours to get to my village with my family … by then I would have already exhausted half of my holiday money,” one frustrated teacher said.
Mr Bihoro sympathised with the teachers but said his office was bound by the laws.
He did not rule out a possibility of a change of arrangements “after talking to the finance office to find alternatives”.