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FBOA calls attention to a growing concern in the industry

January 6, 2020 10:40 am
[Source: Dominion Transport Ltd Facebook]

The Fiji Bus Operators Association has expressed its concern on the closure of the Dominion Transport Company Pte Limited last week.

FBOA President Nisar Ali Shah says the unchanged bus fare structure for the past 10-years is a challenge faced by bus companies in the country.

Shah added that an independent review of the bus industry pinpointed the issue in 2009 and identified how it can become problematic if not addressed.

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“The plight of Dominion Transport is a matter of grave concern to the members of the Fiji Bus Operators Association because every company is facing the same difficulties that Dominion Transport has encountered and if left unchecked, the entire industry will likely collapse.”

Shah says their concern should be taken seriously as operational costs continue to increase.

“For more than 10 years the bus fare structure has remained unchanged, despite soaring operational costs during this time. Two years after first formally making an application for a bus fare review, we are still waiting for it to be granted. In the meantime, the industry is crumbling around us.”

A Bus Industry Review carried out by the United Kingdom firm Orion Consultants in 2009 identified that bus companies now face increasing competition from legal and illegal minibusses and carriers.

The review was commissioned by the Land Transport Authority.

“The bus industry was protected from excessive competition, but now faces increasing competition from legal and illegal minibusses (mainly operating on tar roads) and carriers (light trucks that carry goods and people on poor roads). Deteriorating road conditions increase operating costs and make some routes unviable. Operating costs have risen faster than income, resulting in an aging fleet that has compromised passenger safety. “The industry is at a critical stage, and could collapse due to the low profits, deteriorating roads and competition from carriers and minibusses.”

The report also highlighted the consequences that would follow if the identified issues continued to be ignored.

“If this were to happen, the people of Fiji would lose an affordable bus service and the Government would lose revenue. The LTA would have great problems of regulation, safety, congestion, service standards and price controls in a transport industry dominated by many small vehicles.”

The Fiji Bus Operators Association President is calling on the Land Transport Authority and the Government to help address the issue in order to avoid other bus operations facing the same fate as Dominion Transport.

FBC News is currently awaiting a response to questions sent to LTA this afternoon.

Attempts to get a comment from the Transport Ministry remains futile at this stage.

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