The Fiji Bus Operators Association is proposing that the government provides immediate support through duty-free fuel and the grant of an increase in bus fare.
Association President, Nisar Ali Shah says a workshop was convened between bus operators and Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission on 11th March 2022 where the proposed bus fare regulatory framework was discussed.
Shah says the discussions were fruitful, and operators are hopeful of further positive outcomes from the workshop.
He says in the meantime, the Bus Operators Association has made an application for an immediate increase in bus fare under provisions in the proposed bus fare regulatory framework.
Shah says the bus operators are hopeful that the FCCC will urgently look into their plight, and that the upcoming mini-budget will provide much-needed relief.
He says they support the call by Association member, Raiwaqa Buses, for an immediate increase in bus fare to prevent the industry from collapse.
Shah says as highlighted by Raiwaqa Buses Managing Director Ashok Kumar, many bus companies are operating on overdrafts to keep services going, with fuel suppliers and other creditors starting to come calling.
Shah says it is a miracle that buses continue to operate even with increasing fuel costs, because a substantial proportion of bus operators’ costs is taken up by fuel, followed by wages and repair and maintenance – all costs which have increased in recent years.
He says since fuel and wages costs cannot be cut, the risk is that bus operators could attempt to save costs on repair and maintenance, thereby compromising safety.
Shah says such a situation cannot be sustained any longer at current bus fare levels coupled with all-round rising costs.
The Association President says along with fuel, the cost of bus components have gone up, including tyres, lubricants and parts.
Shah says as acknowledged by the Minister for Economy, freight costs into Fiji have increased by at least three-fold, so ways must be found immediately to relieve the pressure on bus operators.
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