26 October 2020

Now homeless, jobless, face visa issue in Taiwan

Newsroom, Honiara

ABOUT twelve local students who have completed their studies in Taiwan are now stranded after they could not travel back over the weekend due to a lack of an airline ticket.

Reports said the students turned up at the airport in Taipei on Saturday morning to board their promised flight only to be told they cannot travel due to lack of an airline ticket.

The situation has left them frustrated because they have nowhere to go.

One of the senior students told the paper from Taiwan yesterday most of them were supposed to board a pre-arranged flight home on Saturday en route to Auckland but were turned back at the airport after no tickets were prepared for them.

Its understood government was supposed to facilitate their air tickets.

The concerned student who wants his name withheld said their bookings were confirmed for 24th October from Taipei to Auckland, which was meant to connect them with the repatriation flight from AKL-HNR on Sunday, 25th of October. 

“However, due to late arrangements of tickets, the bookings were cancelled,” he said.

He said most of the students have been looking forward to boarding the flight. 

He added as a result of the cancellation, the students are in a dire situation as it also creates new issues on their welfares.

“As we already expect the flight, students already cancelled their apartment arrangements with their landlords, sadly it turns out differently and now they are without homes stranded around the airport and looking for a place to stay,” he said.

He said to find a place to stay in a short time in such a foreign land is not an easy task.

The student added some of the students will likely face visa problems in the coming months.

“Some students are expected to have a visa problem in the coming months thus, we would need an explanation letter from the government regarding the date of another expected flight to leave Taiwan, and this will enable us to renew our residential visa,” he said. 

He added the cancellation would also affect students who have already completed their program and doing part-time jobs as they already quit their jobs, thinking they will return home very soon.

“Some of the privately sponsored students, who have part-time jobs to support them had to quit their jobs after we were told that our flight was confirmed for 24th October. 

“Only at the last few hours before our flight that we were told our tickets had not been purchased and we cannot board the flight. So, to put things into perspective, we are basically homeless and some without jobs,” he said.

He said this is really an unfortunate situation that they found themselves in, and it’s not the first time this had happened. 

“This is not the first time as we were also told the same thing back in August. Someone is not doing his/her job? We do not know what went wrong or who is to blame? We followed the instructions and get all the requirements given to us by the responsible authorities in order to qualify to board the flights, but in the end, the people in charge of our flight arrangements failed us. 

“It seems like we are not the government’s priority with regards to all the repatriation flight arrangements,” he added.

He said due to the cancellation, they still remain with 33 students living in Taiwan.

“Among those 15, who have already graduated in June, three have graduated with masters, 4 medical students and 8 with bachelor degree whilst the other remaining students are private sponsored students expected to graduate next year and the following years,” he added.

He said the government-sponsored students are the current final year students. 

Meanwhile, speaking at the talkback show yesterday, Secretary to Prime Minister (SPM) Dr. Jimmy Rodgers confirmed the students were late due to ticket issue.

However, he assured that they will come home in the next repatriating flight en route to Auckland.  

Dr. Rodgers said apart from Taiwan, the next flight will also bring Solomon Islanders in the United States of America, Canada, and others whose names already submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade.