A SERIES of bus fires, tampering of electrical systems and unapproved installation of radio accessories have prompted authorities to ground the fleet of one of the country's bus service provider.
About 65 buses belonging to the Nasese Buses Limited were ordered off the road indefinitely to allow for an audit of its fleet.
"The LTA has made a decision today (yesterday) and we have already advised the Ministry of Works and Transport that we are going to ground by this (yesterday) afternoon all the Nasese buses indefinitely as we will now carry another intensive audit on their buses," LTA CEO Naisa Tuinaceva said.
He said the series of bus fires was becoming "too much" and the authority needed to get to the bottom of the issue.
"We need to carry out a thorough investigation again, audit all the fleet. We need to relook at all the reports submitted, all causes of defects and breakdowns.
"We are doing that in the best interest of the travelling public. We have to carry out this intensive audit just to make sure that all these problems are eliminated. It's to do with public safety and it's our concern."
Mr Tuinaceva said the authority met the Fiji Bus Operators Association and they shared the same concern.
He said FBOA agreed to provide support services through other buses in areas serviced by Nasese Buses Limited.
Mr Tuinaceva said to minimise disruption of services, they would work weekends as well to clear the buses as soon as possible.
"It is really unfortunate for these incidents to happen. Some of these buses, we found out, went through our fitness process, went back to their garage where some of these drivers tampered (with) the electrical systems, they installed the radio, they installed the boom-box - these are all high voltage amplifiers and these are the causes of the fires and something that was done without approval."
FBOA general secretary Rohit Latchan said they pleaded with LTA not to take that action "but we will try and work with the operator to see that his operations are well".
He said Nasese Buses Limited had invested substantially in the industry having brought in 15 brand new buses and that FBOA had requested LTA to consider checking all the buses and restore its services.
He said the company was serving the Makoi-Tovata route, Kubukawa-Nasese route and Suva-Nausori route in the night.
Nasese Buses Limited director Jack Kumar said following a meeting with LTA, he had pulled his buses off the road.
"We had a meeting with Naisa and I said I will pull out (the buses off the road) at 4 o'clock and send all my buses to LTA for them to check, give the clearance and then I will start operating," Mr Kumar said.