Fijileaks: Instead of Transport Minister Parveen Bala threatening a YOUTH and Justice Minister Aiyaz Khaiyum not throwing the law book at Bala, both should order bus operators to give bus drivers a reasonable amount of cash [the float money they used to start their shift with] so they (the drivers and bus checkers) could immediately refund the travelling public the amount overcharged. It is small change for the bus operators to part with if we are to believe that it is the bus drivers and the bus checkers who have been stealing annually between $3m to $5m in tax revenue from the bus operators and the taxman. We still do not believe that the bus operators have become so transparent with their earnings that they want E-Ticketing machines. It is like Dracula has suddenly decided that someone else should guard his BLOOD BANK. At least, the drivers knew how much they handed to their bosses!
Singh demands refund and she wants it now
Wednesday, October 04, 2017
"WE want a refund and we want it now."
This was the comment made by Lautoka resident Gunamma Singh in response to Government's eTransport scheme after she was overcharged by $1.14 cents yesterday.
Mrs Singh said she normally paid 70cents to travel from Lovu to Lautoka City. Yesterday, she said the eTransport machine took $1.84 instead of 70cents.
The 56-year-old was one of many who contacted or visited The Fiji Times West bureau seeking answers to the refund process.
"I came to the media because when I went to Vodafone they told me it had nothing to with them and I had to go to the bus company," she said.
"When I went to the bus checker for that company, he said it's not their problem and that I have to go to Vodafone. If Government and Vodafone want to bring this card system in, they must make sure we know where to go when we are overcharged.
"They must think we have all day going from one place to another. It's okay for me, I can walk around but what will happen to handicapped or old people, who will they go to? Who will take them from one place to another?
"For plenty people, the money I am crying for looks small but for poor people like me every single cent counts."
Fijileaks: The Lautoka resident Gunamma Singh has no time or money to go around "dancing" for refund - every single cent counts for her. Bus operators should give to their bus drivers a reasonable amount of cash [the float money they used to start their shift with] so they (drivers and bus checkers) could immediately refund the travelling public the amount overcharged - and find a way to keep tab of the refunds!!!!!!!
The attitude and behaviour of a senior Cabinet Minister during Monday’s Speaker’s debate is a perfect example of thuggery and dictatorship following questions directed him by members of the audience over Government’s botched implementation of the e-ticketing system.
Minister for Local Government, Housing, Environment, Infrastructure and Transport Honourable Parveen Kumar Bala’s answers, mannerism and tone showed his extreme arrogance and blatant disregard of the concerns of the members of the public who undoubtedly like many thousands of people who use buses as the only means of public transport over the implementation of the e-ticketing system.
Naturally, this resulted in the reaction by a youth Mr Kelvin Anthony who could no longer tolerate Mr Bala’s arrogant behaviour and “my way or the highway” attitude and called him a thug.
This resulted in the Minister raising his voice and telling Mr Anthony that he (Mr Bala) knew who he is and where he works and lives. This constitutes a threat. Mr Bala should be ashamed of himself for displaying such behaviour, worse still in public.
When one views the Speaker’s debate, it becomes absolutely clear that Mr Bala came to the debate with a pre-meditated mind to simply disregard and crush all legitimate concerns raised on the problems associated with the implementation of the e-ticketing concept.
He wanted only his point of view to prevail and wanted the audience to accept the fact that only the current Government has the ability, authority and mandate to implement any policy that it wants to without widespread consultation. Along with stakeholders, the people should have been consulted or given time to adjust to the system.
Every new concept has a transition period. E-ticketing is no exception. Government must understand that imposition hardens attitude. It is no use living in denial that immediate transition to e-ticketing is working. Not only passengers, but bus drivers are also complaining.
The usage of e-ticketing is time-consuming for drivers and buses are unable to depart or arrive at their destinations on time. And we have seen in many cases that due to the rush to adhere to the timetable, drivers do not pick up passengers along the route and the stranded passengers have no option but to catch taxis.
The best thing is to allow a transitional period of six months where both e-ticketing and cash should be allowed and accepted as fare. Even countries like Australia and New Zealand have both systems. A transition period will also allow bus operators to assess the level of increase in their income as this has been their basis for calling for the implementation of the e-ticking system.
And at the end of the six-month transition period, the logical step would be to increase the wages of drivers and other workers in the bus industry and also reduce fares because due to the expected significant increase in income.
This is the right way forward and Mr Bala as Transport Minister must accept the reality and convince Government and the e-ticket service provider Vodafone to alleviate the plight facing the traveling instead of riding roughshod over people’s concern
Professor Biman Prasad
FLP: "We say once again SCRAP the system, give refunds to ticket holders and revert to the cash bus fare system. People say they prefer the cash system. If AG is so worried about bus operators and drivers filching tax money – he should put government checkers on all the buses. He cannot allow the public to be ripped off and inconvenienced because of his tax concerns."
The Attorney General must explain to the public why higher fares are being charged under the new e-ticketing system.
Angry commuters everywhere are demanding refunds for overcharged bus fares.
People who travel on buses are generally from families that cannot afford cars, and many live a hand to mouth existence. For them even a 5c increase in bus fares are a worry.
In this case we have received reports of additional charges ranging from 30c to more than $1 per sector. People who normally paid 70c for a sector are now being charged $1.00. This means an additional 60c per day – and $3 for a 5-day week.
Some who paid $1.10 are being charged $1.68 – an additional 58c per route and so on. A lady claimed in the Fiji Times today that she was charged $1.84 for a normal 70c route - overcharged by $1.14. She is rightly demanding a refund but is being sent from pillar to post
There are many similar cases.
The Attorney General must answer to the public. The system is causing chaos everywhere – buses with faulty machines are being parked at the depot. Passengers both school children and workers, are left stranded as the few buses with workable machines cannot cope with the increased load.
The poor drivers are being forced to face angry and frustrated commuters who swear at them for machines that don’t work or for being left stranded on the road side.
We ASK again:
• Were the machines properly certified before they were installed?
• Was an audit of the system carried out?
• Were drivers properly trained on the use of the machines?
• Will the AG ensure that hundreds of commuters who were overcharged will get refunds without being pushed from pillar to post?
• How will he address this problem of overcharging of fares and ensure that it will stop when the machines are not certified and there is no audit.
We say once again SCRAP the system, give refunds to ticket holders and revert to the cash bus fare system. People say they prefer the cash system.
If AG is so worried about bus operators and drivers filching tax money – he should put government checkers on all the buses. He cannot allow the public to be ripped off and inconvenienced because of his tax concerns.