The Fiji Bus Operators Association believes the authorities responsible for reviewing bus fares are dragging their feet on the issue, one year after it was due to return its decision.
FBOA says the comments by the chief executive of the Fiji Commerce and Competition Commission (FCCC) that there is no urgency is misguided and he has avoided the real issue of unsustainable costs that is affecting bus operators daily.
The bus fare review committee chairman, Mr Joel Abraham of FCCC was to have reported back by December 2017.
A year has passed since then and still there has been no indication of a final report.
The last fare increase was in 2009 and we are still going round in circles talking about analysis of cost structures. Almost a decade has passed and not only has fuel price increased, so have all the other costs associated with running bus companies. These include wages, spare parts, new buses and costs related to electronic ticketing.
The current first stage fare is 68 cents, equating to about 11 cents a kilometre. We have asked this constantly: what can one reasonably buy with 68 cents today? Not even a loaf of bread.
The bus industry is heavily regulated and continues to bear the rising costs that for many bus companies has become unsustainable.
If allowed to continue for much longer, many businesses will be forced to stop providing their services.
The FBOA has tried to file an application to its regulator, the Land Transport Authority, which is the body solely responsible for setting bus fares, but this has been unsuccessful.
FBOA has renewed its call to the authorities to address the bus industry’s concerns on bus fares and unsustainable costs, we hope our problems will be taken on board seriously and resolved quickly to avoid further pain and collapse of the industry.