The Fiji Bus Operators Association has hit back at Land Transport Authority for threatening to penalise bus companies because of overloading.
“We understand very well the safety aspect of bus loads, but the real cause of overloading is road congestion,” said FBOA General Secretary Rohit Latchan.
Mr Latchan was responding to new LTA chief executive Samuel Simpson who said traffic infringement notices would be issued to bus companies carrying excess passengers.
“Bus timetables are regulated by the Land Transport Authority but because of traffic congestion, people are crowding on to the earlier buses. Slow-moving traffic also means passengers are able to force their way onto already crowded buses.
“Another factor causing overloading is that students who previously travelled in designated school buses are now allowed to travel on regular services and this is contributing to excess passengers on early trips.
“We need to first address the congestion issue before the problem of overloading can be effectively addressed,” Latchan said.
Latchan urged Mr Simpson to read the 2009 report on the bus industry by the independent consulting firm Orion Associates from the United Kingdom, which stated that buses were the safest and cheapest mode of transportation in Fiji.
Simpson, according to FBC News, also stated that overloaded buses contribute to “many fatal accidents on our roads.”
“We urge Simpson to present statistics to show that bus accident fatalities are high or are caused by overloading. As far as we know, deaths caused by buses are minuscule compared to deaths caused by other vehicles.”