Juffa calls for investigation into porter’s death

Northern Governor Gary Juffa has called on Police to investigate the death of a Getaway Trekking porter in Oro.

Juffa said he had already written to Police Commissioner Gari Baki to investigate the death of one Winterford Tauno along the Kokoda Track.

He demanded to know if the killing was manslaughter and charges should be brought against the Australian tour operator.

“I have received a number of recent reports that some Australian tour operators have been overloading their porters to keep costs down,” said the governor.

Tauno, who hailed from Buna, died on the second day of a trek organised by an Australian tour company, Getaway Trekking.

Juffa said the KTA ranger, Mabo Sigi, conducted a spot check of a Getaway Trekking tour group at Owers’ Corner on Sept 14 and found that the weight of Tauno’s backpack was 28kg, which is 8kg more than the maximum weight allowed in the KTA Code of Conduct.

“According to Mr Sigi’s report, he redistributed 4kg out of Mr Tauno’s backpack to other Getaway Trekking group porters at Owers’ Corner. This meant that Tauno’s backpack was still 4kg heavier than the maximum weight recommended,” Juffa stated.

He claimed that Tauno died on the grueling climb up Ioribaiwa ridge the next day.

Juffa said when the KTA Ranger advised the PNG leader for Getaway Trekking to advise the Australian leader to get more porters, he was ignored.

“I have also been advised that after the Getaway group moved out of sight of the ranger, the weight was transferred back into Tauno’s backpack.

“From all reports, Winterford Tauno was physically fit, experienced and very popular with the trekkers he supported during his treks across the Kokoda Track.

“His death is a tragedy and I express my sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.

“We now have a duty to ensure that Tauno’s death was not in vain and that our Kokoda tour guides and porters are properly protected from exploitation by tour operators.”

Freddy Mou