Politics

Attorney-General: Misuse Of Bus Cards Subsides Calls For Urgent Action

The abuse has moved the Government and Fiji Bus Operators Association to take urgent action.
20 Jun 2019 10:40
Attorney-General: Misuse Of Bus Cards Subsides Calls For Urgent Action
Minister for Economy and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (left) with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama outside Parliament on June 19, 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says parents and other family members have been found to be abusing their children’s bus card subsidies.

“We have been monitoring the situation for quite some time and the data shows that a lot of these student bus cards have been used while these kids are in school,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“We have had discussions with the bus operators because they too are burdened about it. The bus companies are providing subsidy travel, but because people abuse it, it is also being given to people who should not be getting it,”

The abuse has moved the Government and Fiji Bus Operators Association to take urgent action.

“It is very unfortunate, but as a result, of course, we have said we will reduce the number of hours during which the school students can use the cards,” he said.

Students who use their bus cards after 4.30pm, will now be charged the normal fare and not the student fares, but deliberations on this decision are still in progress between FBOA and the Ministry of Education.

FBOA General Secretary Rohit Latchan said it was an offence for parents to abuse their children’s cards because they should have their own and should be taken to task for such actions.

Mr Latchan believes that having a time limit for student’s e-card usage will control the abuse happening now.

“We had a meeting with the Ministry of Education and we have expressed our views on the time limitations and so we will wait and see what time limit the ministry will come up with and that is what we will follow,” Mr Latchan said.

“It has just come into the Budget now and so there is still a mechanism to be sorted out as Vodafone also plays an important part in limiting the usage for students in the system.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said that before students could use the e-cards until 7pm due to children needs in having longer classes or sporting activities. But they have found that many of these children are not part of it.

“They are not going home late because of those activities, it was simply because they are going around roaming the streets and doing other activities,” he said.

Government is closely monitoring the progress of these subsidies and hopes to improve in other ways.

“Again we have allowed for them to use their cards on a Saturday just in case they go to school, but because of its abuse we have to roll it back,” Mr Sayed Khaiyum said.

“People can still go to school using these subsidies, but only to school and then come back within a specified period of time and we really hope we can look at some other ways, in fact cutting the time during school hours perhaps later on when these cards can be used also.”

Edited by Epineri Vula

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