Taxi fare concession

MORE than 7500 taxidrivers in Fiji will be taken to task if they do not allow people living with disability and senior citizens to board with a 20 per cent fare concession.

There were 54,359 senior citizens and 2960 persons living with disability affected by this concession.

Fiji Taxi Association general secretary Rishi Ram said taxidrivers whether new or old permit holders shouldn’t come up with excuses of not allowing people living with disability and senior citizens to board their taxis.

“The association supports the consumer council and the Government because it had signed an agreement with Government in 2011 when we were offered a fare increase we would offer concession to senior citizens and people living with disability,” he said.

“This applies to all taxidrivers because when we fight for an increase in taxi fare every driver benefits from it, so when the concession agreement was signed every driver needs to follow it.

“I urge those affected to report this issue to the association, LTA, police or consumer council. Write the taxi registration numbers down and lodge a complaint with stakeholders so the issue can be addressed right away.”

Consumer Council of Fiji CEO Premila Kumar said the council addressed a complaint where a taxidriver had declined to offer a senior citizen taxi concession when boarding the taxi in Labasa resulting in the passenger paying full fare.

“After the councils intervention the taxidriver reimbursed the 20 per cent of the total fare paid by the passenger and the matter was reported to the Social Welfare Department and the Fiji Taxi Association.”

“The council is aware of previous cases where consumers were denied services by the drivers when they showed the concession card. Taxidrivers tend to come up with excuses such as having other runs in order to avoid passengers who carry concession cards.”

Fiji National Council for Disabled Persons executive director Dr Sitiveni Yanuyanutawa said if taxidrivers were not honouring the agreement then there was a need for a review of granting concession because the council don’t want people living with disabilities to anticipate something that wasn’t offered to them now.

“The council receives two to three complaints in a month about the issue,” he said.

Rewa Disabled People’s Association president Litia Naitanui who lives with a disability said when she boards a taxi the drivers never charge her the 20 per cent concession fare.

“Even when I show my red card to the taxi drivers I still pay the full amount and none has accepted it since its introduction in 2011. I usually board the taxi from Nausori to Nasali and from work to the bus stand and I still pay the full fare.”

Senior citizen Manasa Bole said he wasn’t aware of the taxi fare concession, but was only aware of the bus concession scheme.

“If I had known I would have used my yellow card to get a 20 per cent fare concession in the taxi. I think there needs to be a lot of awareness on the matter so that we know about the benefits,” he said.

Taxidriver based in Nausori, Arvin Reddy said he was a new taxi permit holder and he wasn’t aware of the agreement signed between the association and government on the 20 per cent concession.

“Everyone should be informed and it should be discussed in a meeting with all drivers, operators and the association so drivers are aware about the agreement,” Mr Reddy said.

Land Transport Authority CEO Carmen Piantedosi said the authority was aware of the agreement but was not part of the agreement.

“We monitor any complaints about charging of fares and we regulate the maximum fare that a taxi operator can issue, but if it’s an agreement between other parties then it’s their responsibility to manage the arrangements themselves,” he said.

The Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation hadn’t responded to questions sent to them on Tuesday about the concession scheme and on how it would improve when this edition when to press on Thursday.

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