After the Honiara City Council began enforcing its ordinance on set bus destinations yesterday, questions remained about passenger fares.
Some buses reportedly charged passengers $5 for one trip, but Eddie Ngava, chairperson of the Honiara City Council’s ad hoc committee said public bus fares remain at $3 for adults and $2 for children and students.
Traffic officers said buses that charge more than the standard fares should be reported to the nearest police station.
After the new ordinance on route destinations was announced last Friday, public bus operators expressed concerns that it could affect their profits, citing poor road conditions and fuel prices.
But Mr Ngava said those complaints are not valid reasons to increase bus fares.
“The road conditions are not the responsibility of the council, so that’s not attached to pricing,” Mr Ngava said. “In the past years, the fluctuations of fuel prices has not even affected the $3, and even now I think the price is quite reasonable for fuel.”
Bus operators were given this week to have their buses inspected and pay for their business licence from the city council before using the destination plates required by the new ordinance.
Reactions from public bus users to the ordinance have been largely positive.
Chairman of the Burns Creek community in East Honiara and former Honiara City Council member John Seti Iromea said short bus routes have been costly and inconvenient for city residents for the past few years.
He commended the mayor and the city council for introducing the ordinance and said it was a needed change for students in the city.
“They’re happy, and even the working people, we’re really happy about this,” Mr Iromea said. “This is the right move for our people in the city.”
But Charles Lesimaoma, former deputy president of the Honiara City Council, said the city council administration must ensure the ordinance is properly enforced.
“Collecting money outside of the normal procedure or not following the normal procedure in other ways, these are the things the city council should take strict action on,” he said. “If officers do this with the bus companies, we will have the same problem because we will open the gate for corruption.”
By Charlie Salini