Labour Member of Parliament, Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi today called on the Minister for Transport to direct the concerned authorities to immediately reduce the illegal increase of 5% in bus fares effective 1st June 2003.
Judgement by Land Transport Appeals Tribunal yesterday has revealed that the 5% bus fare increase was unlawfully imposed on the travelling public. In particular paragraph 79 (a), (b) and (c) of the judgement makes this very clear.
People should now be relieved from paying extra fares, which were illegally imposed on them by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). LTA has been ordered in paragraph 91 (d) of the judgement to publish new schedule of fares.
But this has to be done within the laws. Regulation 4 of the LTA act sets out the mandatory provision for publications to receive public submissions. No one has a right to deny the public what is provided to them under the laws, in this case Regulation 4 of the LTA act, said Mr. Vayeshnoi.
“In the Tribunal’s proceedings on 6th and 13th of August, 2003 it became obvious that the LTA, Fiji Bus Operators Association and the government connived in this saga — the victims have been the poor and ordinary citizens,” claimed Mr. Vayeshnoi.
Government must also explain to the public as to why Cabinet approval was granted for the unlawful and unjustified fare increase, which is contrary to their 2001 general election manifesto? asked Mr. Vayeshnoi.
LTA must take full responsibility for their blunder and implement remedial measures without any further delay. The bus operators must be immediately directed to revert to legitimate fares now, demanded Mr. Vayeshnoi.
“In the meantime I am seeking further legal advise on the judgement orders as well as issue of reimbursement of extra fares that were charged to the travelling public since June 1st, 2003.
“In fact in paragraph 60 of the judgement, it states that similar breach as of the law have been committed by LTA since 2000 for a 25% increase in fares (15% and 10% respectively) which is also being reviewed by FLP for a legal challenge.
“The total increase of 30% since 2000 is grave injustice on the poor people of Fiji,” said Mr. Vayeshnoi.
Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi
Member of Parliament