Drivers stage protest
LOCAL bus drives and conductors showed their frustration last Monday towards the continuing increase in the number of Asian-owned buses operating in Honiara by staging a five-hour protest.
They took the law into their own hands when they decided to stop working for more than five hours in protest to the issue.
Spokesman John Adomea said there are issues affecting local bus owners, bus drivers and conductors in the country that went unnoticed due to neglect by responsible authorities.
“First and foremost is the increasing number of Chinese-owned buses, which is slowly but surely putting local bus owners out of business,” Mr Adomea said.
He added the increase in the council’s quarterly business licence fee from $500 to $800 since last year was unfair to operators because of the poor road conditions and daily traffic jam in Honiara.
The drivers and conductors also requested the city council to build more public toilets for them and others to use as they played an important role in providing transport in the city.
Also highlighted in the list of issues is the short bus route, which is believed to have been triggered by the involvement of some Asian bus owners, which the locals believe is killing the transport service in the city.
The buses after assembling at the Kukum SDA bus stop at around 9am drove in fleet down the Prince Philip Highway where they packed at the Honiara City Council to express their concerns.
According to the National Capital Assistance Police Commissioner Gabriel Manelusi, the matter was discussed yesterday at 2pm with the Honiara City Mayor Alfrence Fatai, the City Clack, City Council Law Enforcers, and Royal Solomon Islands Police with the bus owners, drivers and conductors.
Mr Manelusi said after the fruitful discussions with the City Council and police, bus drivers and conductors continued with their normal service as of 2pm.
He said a formal discussion regarding the issues raised will take place today at the Honiara police headquarters at 9am.
The discussion will be attended by key stakeholders like the Honiara City Council, the Royal Solomon Islands Police, Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development and the bus owners,he said.
Mr Manelusi appealed to the general public to stay calm and respect any decision reached in the discussions today as the matter is now with the right authorities.
Monday’s action has left many people walking the road.
By BIRIAU W. SAENI