24 March, 2018, 12:00 am
THE imposing of the eticketing system upon the people of Fiji last year was wrong and draconian. We believe the consumer being the everyday people who use buses were never consulted or given an opportunity to have an input into this new ticketing system.
Upon the introduction of the eticketing system, there were many difficulties faced by the people who were daily bus users and this clearly indicated the lack of planning and consultation before introducing this new system for daily use by the consumers.
One thing which stood out was the unfairness faced by the people when trying to board a bus for their respective journeys.
Majority of the complaints were centered around the eticketing system which included people complaining about being:
1. Overcharged while using their etickets to pay their bus fares on the same bus route;
2. Not being able to reclaim the amount of money which was overcharged;
3. Not having an avenue to get their money back or having an opportunity to claim money overcharged by the eticket system without going through the huge inconvenience of spending hours trying to deal with bus companies, LTA and Vodafone;
4. Not being able to top-up your cards at other venues and only at Vodafone outlets (lately two supermarkets have been added);
5. Children not being able to replace their cards if lost and the hardship of not being able to reach their homes on a bus;
6. Bus drivers not being allowed to use discretion to allow passengers to board buses if there was a problem with the eticket; and
7. Passengers not being able to pay by cash (Legal Tender);
The eticketing system has imposed further hardship on the people. There is no justification on why this current government is putting further burden on the taxpayers.
The travelling public should not be bearing the brunt of revenue collection at huge public inconvenience.
The current eticketing system imposed on the people of Fiji is also making extra money which the government is not entitled based on the overcharging faced by passengers.
For example if 500 passengers are overcharged $0.10 daily from around Fiji, that would add up to $50 extra being collected by Vodafone and in seven days that would amount to $350. This is just an example using $0.10 cents.
There have been many occasions when people have complained about being overcharged in excess of $1.
The Electronic Fare Ticketing Act 2014, Legal Notice No. 63 states that a person must pay the required fare to reach his or her destination, any person who contravenes that commits an offence and is liable a fixed penalty of $50.
Where a person fails to pay the fixed penalty and a late payment fee within the prescribed period, the person is liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $500.
The eticketing system imposes heavy fines and a heavy burden on the people of Fiji However there is no fairness when so many wrongs are faced by the people as highlighted above.
The current eticketing system lacks accountability, transparency and fairness.
In government, the Fiji Labour Party proposes to do the following:
1. Scrap all VAT on all bus fares;
2. Immediately scrap the current eticketing system;
3. Set up a committee to consult with all stakeholders including passengers around Fiji; and
4. Before introducing a fair, accountable and transparent system of bus fare collection which will also include a person being able to pay by cash.