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Government Plans to Employ Scientific Measures to Regulate Bus Fares

By Reginald Andrew
Transport Minister, Stephenson King
Transport Minister, Stephenson King

Government authorities are keen on taking steps to mitigate against rising fuel prices –as minibus drivers seek to obtain an increase in bus fares to balance out their operational costs.

In light of the situation, Transport Minister Stephenson King has indicated that the authorities plan on employing scientific strategies to better regulate public transportation rates.

President of the National Council on Public Transportation (NCOPT), Godfrey Ferdinand
President of the National Council on Public Transportation (NCOPT), Godfrey Ferdinand

Consequently, the minister informed reporters that last Friday, a meeting was convened with the President of the National Council on Public Transportation (NCOPT), Godfrey Ferdinand, where the discussions highlighted an increase in fuel prices.

“We need to sit down and work out some mechanism that will allow them to operate at an economic rate and that the people of the country will not be affected,” declared King, about arriving at an amicable solution with the bus operators.

“We have discussed with them and we anticipate that the increase will be effected …and at that point, we will meet with them, work out the necessary implications, how it affects them and how it is likely to affect the people, and make a determination,” the transport minister added.

Noting that the public transportation sector has been beset with economic issues since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, King assured that the transport department is committed to working out solutions that will benefit both the bus drivers and commuters.

“Bus drivers have been clamouring for an increase from time immemorial, long before COVID, and unfortunately, the situation in the country is that we cannot put more pressure on the people of this country,” he said. “We have to be reasonable both to the bus drivers and the passengers.”

The transport minister disclosed that a comprehensive study is forthcoming to determine a scientific formula to fathom out an equitable resolution.

“We understand what the bus drivers are engaged in, but at this time …the ministry of transport – the department of transport is engaged in undertaking a study that will inform us on a scientific method of computing public transportation rates,” said King.

He explained that this undertaking would not be “an arbitrary thing”, but it should be a result-based determination where “we want it scientifically that all will benefit.”

Reports state that as of Monday 21st March 2022, gasoline and diesel prices increased by $1.00 from $13.95 to $14.95 per gallon, while LPG 100 lb cylinders increased from $257.95 to $266.43

Bus drivers have complained that while prices everywhere are going up, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has negatively impacted their operations, making it difficult for them to meet their financial obligations when they have not had a fare increase for over a decade.

Meanwhile, the transport ministry is due to hold a second ‘sit down’ with the NCOPT’s general council, this week, to iron out the differences and arrive at an amicable solution.

Amidst the impending fuel price hikes and other economic setbacks in handling the situation, King asserted: “We have to be reasonable both to the bus drivers and to the passengers.”

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