Buses charging $5.00 for adult fares could face hefty penalties
PUBLIC buses who are charging $5.00 as adult bus fare could be facing hefty penalties or fines, it was revealed yesterday.
While others have been paying $5.00 to the dishonest buses, other commuters still maintains that the act of charging passengers with the said amount is still illegal until it is passed by responsible authorities.
Solomon Star understands that the sudden increase of adult fares from $3.00 to $5.00 came about following the increase in fuel prices and spare parts in recent months.
After participating in a strike which halted all bus operations within Honiara City last week, some dishonest buses went on to charge adults with the newly invented $5.00 fares.
But in an interview with this paper yesterday, longtime Honiara resident, Sam Taloeasi said the act of overcharging commuters or passengers without legal directions from the responsible authorities might be illegal.
“I think to just increase the bus fare to $5.00 without following the right process and procedure to actually pass the new fares is illegal. As a passenger, I have the right not to be forced to pay $5.00 because this is illegal.
“I can also take any bus conductor and driver to court, if they continue to demand this illegal increase of bus fares.
“This is pure extortion at its best. Extortion is a crime as far as the laws of Solomon Islands is concerned,” Mr Taloeasi maintains.
HCC Mayor Eddie Siapu over the weekend called on the owners of public buses to maintain the $3.00 bus fare within the capital, following the strike last week.
In response to their demand, Siapu said whilst he sympathises with the bus owners in Honiara, he kindly asks all public bus service providers in the city to maintain the adult bus fare at $3.00.
“Looking at this issue of increased fuel prices, it is something beyond the powers of the council to address. HCC does not have the power to deal with the control of prices of goods and services,” he said.
Despite the call by the city mayor on bus owners not to increase bus fares, buses are still demanding adult commuters to pay $5.00 per destination which is quite hefty for the commuters.
Lately, bus owners who provided services in Honiara were not complying with the directive made by Mayor Siapu, to not increase bus fares.
A commuter told this paper yesterday that there were buses who were not complying with the call made by the City Mayor over the weekend to maintain the $3 bus fare per adult for each destination within the capital.
Mr Silas Rongokubu said since Friday, some of the buses he boarded had demanded $5 bus fare from him.
He said this action seems to tell that some of the buses were not adhering to the call made by the responsible authority, and they should be punished for not complying.
“The Honiara Law Enforcement and Royal Solomon Islands Police Force need to do some about this by arresting those buses that are not comply with the authority directive,” Mr Rongokubu said.
Meanwhile, an angry Taloeasi encourages commuters not to listen or follow the $5.00 demand for adult fare until the new bus fare rates are agreed and passed by responsible authorities.
“We must continue to pay the normal $3.00 adult bus fare and not the $5.00 demand. If any bus conductor is demanding you, please report him to the authorities.
“Don’t let them charge you with this illegal adult fare of $5.00,” Taloeasi stated.
It is still unclear whether talks are already underway by the defunct Honiara Buses Association, HCC, and government line ministries in sorting out this matter.
By FOLLET JOHN
Solomon Star, Honiara