No Change in Bus Fares – For Now
There is no change to the bus fares after yesterday’s intense meeting as the Bus Fare Review Committee’s chair says the bus owners did not give sufficient financial information to justify the increase.
Abraham says the Commission needs to do a trend analysis as the bus owners are saying there is an increase in cost.
“Any changes to the bus fares will affect thousands of Fijian families and in light of incomplete information, we can’t justify a fare increase. We’ve asked the bus owners to go back and give full information. Only upon full information will we proceed. I have no issues in reviewing it. Again, fairness is the keyword. We must maintain fairness, the Fijians have put their faith and trust in FCCC and we will uphold that,” said Joel Abraham – Bus Fare Review Committee Chairman.
He says they’ve asked the operators to give the 2017 financial information but only a handful have given theirs.
Fiji Bus Operators Association’s President Richard Lal said, “The bus industry is now making a loss right now and that’s why we’re in a desperate situation. If it wasn’t a desperate situation, you wouldn’t find them here [the meeting].”
The bus owners walked out of the 2 hour intense meeting very disappointed, as they were hoping that their years of pushing for a fare increase would finally happen.
Meanwhile Abraham has told the Association to give the Committee the full information.
“In December when we had a meeting with them, we told them that I won’t go on leave, my staff won’t go on leave. We will process this. We did not go on leave, we were waiting for the bus industry. We wrote back to them saying more information is needed. We told them that they need to come back and once they do give it to us, we will work as fast as we can and come up with a decision,” he said.
Abraham said the bus owners think the Commission is delaying their request but he says he owes a duty to the Fijian families to ensure fairness exists.
“To enable me to do that, we need to verify the cost. They said there is a spike in cost because fuel price increased, we need to take reasonableness and analytics then ask the hard questions. Just because they are unhappy, we will still ask the hard questions,” he added.
According to the bus owners, the last bus fare increase was 10 years ago.
Abraham says they’ve requested the bus owners to come back and provide a representative sample of their financial information for the Commission to undertake an analysis.