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Opinion, Opinion

#Vote2018: FLP’s Take On E-transport

#Vote2018: FLP’s Take On E-transport
Salinieta Nekebau of Lami (left), gets her e-transport card registration done by Fane Bui at the Suva Bus stand on September 28, 2017. Photo: Ronald Kumar
March 31
10:31 2018

Since the e-Ticketing system was introduced in October 2017 many difficulties have been faced by the people who are daily bus users. This is a clear indi­cation that there was a huge lack of planning and consulting before in­troducing this new system for daily use by the consumers.

This e-Ticketing system has placed a huge burden on the people of Fiji. The majority of the complaints have centered on the e-Ticketing system which includes:

  1. Being over charged while using their e-Tickets to pay their bus fares on the same bus route;

(FIJI SUN FACT CHECK: If you think that you have been over­charged, please keep your receipt and advise the driver. You can call the toll-free line 151 (for any net­work users) or visit any Vodafone outlet with the copy of your receipt as evidence of an overcharged bus fare. You will have to go through a verification process prior to being refunded)

  1. Not being able to reclaim the amount of money which was over charged;

(FIJI SUN FACT CHECK: Any bal­ance remaining on your old card will be refunded to you in cash. To receive your cash refund you can visit any authorized Vodafone, Mr. Mobile or Valuefone outlet. You will be asked to provide your old card and a valid ID. Passengers have been able to claim whatever was over-charged, as long as they pro­duce receipts of their commute.)

  1. Not having an avenue to get their money back or having an opportu­nity to claim money overcharged by the E-Ticket system without going through the huge inconvenience of spending hours trying to deal with bus companies, LTA and Vodafone;

(FIJI SUN FACT CHECK: These is a toll free number 151 available for any network user for any query about the e-transport system.)

  1. Not being able to top up your cards at other venues and only at Vodafone outlets (lately two super­markets have been added);

(FIJI SUN FACT CHECK: This is incorrect. There are shops situated at the Yatulau Arcade, opposite the Suva bus stand where e-transport cards can be topped up and the same applies throughout the country.)

  1. Children not being able to re­place their cards if lost and the hard ship of not being able to reach their homes on a bus.

(FIJI SUN FACT CHECK: If school children lose their cards, they will need to produce a letter from the school which states that they have lost their card, their student iden­tification number and card number. Parents will need to fork out $5 for a replacement card.)

  1. Bus Drivers not being allowed to use discretion to allow passengers to board buses if there was a prob­lem with the e-Ticket;

(FIJI SUN FACT CHECK: We’ve had cases where drivers have al­lowed passengers into the bus who have problems tapping their cards on the e-ticketing machine.)

  1. Passengers not being able to pay by cash (Legal Tender);

There is no justification on why this current government is putting further burden on the taxpayer. The travelling public should not be bearing the brunt of revenue collec­tion at huge inconvenience to the public..

The current e-Ticketing system imposed on the people of Fiji is also making extra money which the gov­ernment is not entitled to based on the overcharging faced by passen­gers.

For example if 500 passengers are overcharged $0.10 daily from around Fiji, that would add up to $50.00 extra being collected by Voda­fone and in seven days that would amount to $350.00.

This is just an example using $0.10 cents. There have been many occa­sions when people have complained about being overcharged in excess of $1.00.

(FIJI SUN FACT CHECK: The bus fares will remain the same. Howev­er, fares will be no longer be round­ed off in the e-Ticketing system. For example, the $0.68 stage one fare will be charged exactly, rather than be rounded up to 70 cents. The stage two fare of $1.11 will also be charged exactly, rather than be rounded down to $1.10)

The Electronic Fare Ticketing Act 2014, Legal Notice No. 63 states that a person must pay the required fare to reach his or her destination, any person who contravenes that com­mits an offence and is liable to a fixed penalty of $50.

Where a person fails to pay the fixed penalty and a late payment fee within the prescribed period, the person is liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $500.

The e-Ticketing system imposes heavy fines and a heavy burden on the people of Fiji

One thing which is missing from the Electronic Fare Ticketing Act 2014, Legal Notice No. 63 is an av­enue for people to seek redress.

Why was this option left out? It makes no sense for a legislation to be introduced which places heavy fines on the people but does not pro­vide the people an avenue to seek redress.

Why are there no fines against the service providers which include Vodafone, the company which pro­vided and implemented the system and LTA, the body which saw to the introduction of this e-Ticketing sys­tem.

It would have been fair if the leg­islation had provided for fines, re­dress and compensation to be paid out by Vodafone and LTA.

People who have been over charged and who have attempted to seek re­dress did not have much success.

One particular person who de­scribed her experience to me said that when she first went to Voda­fone, they asked her to go to LTA and when she went to LTA she was once again asked to go to Vodafone.

I have heard the same story from many other passengers and it once again confirms that the E-ticketing system lacked proper planning and consultation.

People should have been consulted before the introduction of the E-Ticketing system.

At least a cash payment option to­gether with the card payment would have lessened the heavy burden and hardships which have been forced upon the people of Fiji.

The views and opinions expressed in the article below are entirely those of Aman Ravindra-Singh and not of the Fiji Sun.

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