First meeting tomorrow to discuss future of industry
Local bus owners are meeting in Honiara tomorrow for the first time to seriously look at the future of the industry.
The meeting follows the recent one-day protest bus drivers staged in Honiara.
“One of the issues we will be discussing is why foreigners are allowed to operate buses when it is a reserved business,” chairman of the Indigenous Bus Owners Association of Solomon Islands, Samson Maeniuta Rihuoha, said.
It’s believed up to 100 public buses are owned by Asian businessmen.
“These foreigners have violated the Foreign Investment Act by running buses and taxis when these businesses are restricted only for indigenous people,” he added.
“We will also discuss the hidden joint-ventures between Solomon Islanders and foreigners, which is also a violation of the Investment Act.”
Rihuoha said a harmonised approach for a “One Stop Shop” between Honiara City Council, Guadalcanal Province and the Inland Revenue would also be discussed.
“It is not worth the time taken to have the police, Honiara City Council law enforcement, and the Guadalcanal police to stop you more than once just to collect a permit licence.
“People don’t need an element of surprise, but just public communication,” he said.
Rihuoha also stated the short bus routes problem is an issue that will be discussed.
“But it should be noted that it is important to address the root causes of short bus routes, and not just the symptoms of broader, wider and deeper problem.
“The bus association will discuss and propose its idea to the relevant authorities.”
He said his association welcomes the step taken by the Ministry of Commerce and its consultation with the people to increase the list of reserved business areas for Solomon Islanders.
However, he said there is also need for more monitoring of current restricted areas for Solomon Islanders.
“We are prepared to work together with relevant authorities to ensure a better transport system and service to our city and people.
“This is important for our country.”
Rihuoha said after their meeting tomorrow, they will seek an audience with the council and other authorities to pursue a way forward for Honiara’s public transport system.
The meeting with be held at the Ministry of Infrastructure Development’s leaf hut.
By LESLEY SANGA