NEWS

Concern Over Influx Of Expat Bus Drivers

At the Parliament Speaker’s Debate in Suva on Monday, the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation’s chief executive officer, Nesbitt Hazelman voiced concerns over the number of bus drivers coming to
29 Nov 2017 10:01
Concern Over  Influx Of Expat Bus Drivers

At the Parliament Speaker’s Debate in Suva on Monday, the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation’s chief executive officer, Nesbitt Hazelman voiced concerns over the number of bus drivers coming to Fiji from the Philippines – 36 in total.

“As we speak today, we are now bringing bus drivers in from the Philippines – who ever thought they would bring bus drivers into this country?” he said.

“Thirty-six bus drivers come to get work in Fiji – it’s unheard of.”

Mr Hazelman said in email that he received the information from a member of the federation, but because of Land Transport Authority licensing requirements, many of these foreign workers are not qualified to drive and would instead be employed in mechanical roles.

“The bus industry is struggling to employ bus drivers as well as mechanics,” he said.

“The turnover of bus drivers is very high, so bus companies are looking at alternatives to remain competitive and more importantly maintain their ability to effectively operate their respective routes.”

Nasese Bus Company Limited director Jack Kumar also confirmed that there was a shortage of bus drivers in the country.

“When driving a public service vehicle, one must have the knowledge of mechanical defects and information about the buses,” he said.

“We carry a lot of passengers throughout the day and it’s their safety which we are concerned about. We need drivers with mechanical knowledge or background to be able to operate the buses on the roads.”

While Mr Hazelman said he “has always been optimistic about Fiji’s growth especially in terms of employment and productivity”,  he believes that an influx of overseas workers reflects the divide between Fiji’s tertiary institutions and the workforce.

“While I mentioned the Philippines, the fact is that we are receiving workers for both white and blue collar jobs from many countries.

“My view is that we need to know where these skills shortages exist and get our training institutions to ensure that they are able to address these gap through training.

“We should be able to meet the demand in the building and construction industry, skills in the manufacturing industry, heavy mechanics in the bus industry, and cooks and chefs in the tourism and hospitality industry.”

Mr Hazelman added that rapid technological changes, poor career choices, lapses in the education system and the high pursuit of white collar jobs are a few issues triggering Fiji to look oversees for qualified workers.

At Monday’s Parliament Speaker’s Debate, the Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Jone Usamate also said producing ready-skilled graduates is a major issue for Fiji.

“Our ability to make sure we’re producing the right kind of workers with the right competencies and skills from our tertiary skill providers – this is a major issue that we have,” he said.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

Feedback:  ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj



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