Husband recalls trip that cost wife's life

Eleven years ago, Romney Mio and his late wife, Gorethy Laupu, made a decision that soon proved tragic.

In 2012, the couple, both aspiring teachers awaiting their ticket fares to travel for their first year of studies at the University of Goroka, left their two children, the eldest son being four and the youngest daughter only two years old. 

Romney, against the prolonged wait for his ticket, while late Laupu being denied a ticket due to reasons unknown to this day, decided to make the trip to Goroka by ship to Lae, then by PMV to the university. This plan did not pan out the way they hoped. 

Tragically, Romney and the late Gorethy were among the hundreds of passengers who boarded MV Rabaul Queen for Lae that capsized and sank in the early hours of February 2, 2012. 

Gorethy Laupu is still missing. 

According to the official commission of inquiry, the exact number of passengers is unknown; estimates range from 88 to 223, while the dead at 146 to 165. 

According to Romney, survivors of the sunken ferry and the families of those who lost loved ones on that ship are yet to receive compensation from the state through the National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) and the management of the MV Rabaul Queen. 

Eleven years on, their children now 16 and 14 years old, Romney fondly recalls how he encouraged his wife, who was already a primary school teacher with a diploma, to go further and pursue a degree in primary education. He speaks of how teaching was a passion they shared and says they planned to stay on that course for the rest of their lives together. 

Bittersweet, Romney has been a teacher for five years now, pursuing the dream he once shared with his love, the late Gorethy. He teaches business studies and social sciences to juniors and economics and geography to secondary-level students at the newly established Kalu Secondary School in West New Britain Province. 
Humble and down-to-earth are two words Romney uses to describe his wife. She embodied these qualities in everything she did as a daughter, a teacher, a mother and a wife. 

Romney says he has never remarried out of respect and love for his late wife. 

Today, as Romney sits, awaiting his entitlement of leave fare to travel to his mother’s home province of Oro, he recalls the wait he and Gorethy made eleven years ago and the devastating decision they made to travel on the ship that sunk, forever changing the course of their lives, affecting not only them but those around them, especially their families. 

Romney says that over 600 teachers in West New Britain are currently waiting for their leave fare/ticket entitlements. He says the delay is due to tax processing at the provincial treasury division. 

“The information that is coming from our superiors at the office of the division of education, they told us that we are going to have our ticket probably after New Year,” said Romney. 

However, classes are scheduled to resume on January 23rd, 2024. 

“The question is, when are we going to get our tickets and when are we going to go for our holidays?” added Romeny. 

Romney says as he presently waits for his leave ticket entitlements, he is reminded of sad memories, stating that issues of disbursement of ticket fares contributed to his wife’s loss.

Loop Author