Letters to the Editor – Saturday, January 18, 2020

Styrofoam cuys. Picture: RNZ

Styrofoam products

A brief item in FT 17/01, mentioned that the proposed ban on styrofoam products in Samoa, was being deferred for six months from January to June this year.

This was to allow local companies to get rid of the styrofoam products that they had already in stock.

With a similar ban also scheduled to be put into effect in Fiji, early next year, we should learn from this Samoan experience and forewarn our local styrofoams producers now, so that they do not also have any accumulated stocks when the ban commences.

Of course, also giving the public a heads up now on the details such as — the reasons for the ban, the types to be banned and so on, in simplified and pictorial form, in the three vernacular languages, will help to keep us all on the same page and working together to achieve the prescribed goal.

Edward Blakelock, Admiral Circle, Pacific Harbour

Return to base

The e-ticketing saga never seems to go away — the latest being the untopped up student e-bus tickets.

I believe a large number of students will be denied education because the MOE has not worked diligently to ensure that all cards were topped up before the start of the new term.

One would think that all those forms and questions parents were required to fill in the e-ticketing application forms would have made things easier.

Apparently it did not work out for one simple reason — MOE headquarters is now swamped with so many forms required to be submitted from schools.

There are audit reports, grant reports, FEMMIS reports, examination reports, disciplinary reports, transfer applications, and more reports to be returned weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually.

Not surprising if the bus fare forms are among the ocean of submitted forms in a corner of MOE headquarters somewhere.

This must have contributed to the very late processing of the bus cards Minister Rosy Akbar and her right hand man Timoci Bure better stop travelling around preaching to teachers about efficiency, irrelevant issues like food and kava issues but return immediately to base and deal with this inefficiency emanating from HQ which threatens to stop a fair number of our precious children attending classes.

So much for the e-ticketing hype and the efficiency hype that MOE is trying to make us believe!

William Rosa, Ba

Visa waiver

While it is great that our Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is going about trying to get us visa waivers from as many countries as possible I suggest we start with countries closest to home, New Zealand and Australia.

About 15,000 Fijians live in New Zealand and about 70,000 live in Australia.

Many Fijians now have close relatives living in both of these countries so it is here where we really need open visas to visit.

What’s confusing most of all is that New Zealand and Australia have a long list of visa waiver countries from some of the least expected countries, but we are nowhere to be seen.

We, on the other hand, have exempted pretty much all the countries around the whole world from entering Fiji?

Simon Hazelman, Rava Estate, Savusavu

Bus company

In the past two weeks, readers have come across unprofitable situation of a bus company that was forced to cease operations, only to recommence within a week’s time because of the assistance from FCCC, that have reportedly shown empathy and expressed interest in reviewing bus fares, and timely funding from a bank.

But I find something amiss; how did the respective bank agree to fund a company that was not making money?

Financial institution’s etiquette, in line with due diligence practice, prohibits lending to loss-making firms.

Was lack of revenue really a concern?

Bimal Prasad, Newtown Rd, Wailoaloa, Nadi

Not Phantom’s phone

I, like Culden, had misgivings about the changing of the times.

However, having reviewed the evidence I can with confidence, and considerable relief, report that the Phantom has not cancelled his contract with the Tom-Tom Drum network in favour of some’ here today, gone tomorrow’ Jungle upstart company that is obviously quite happy to provide their services to various unsavoury characters.

The mobile phone the Phantom has been seen using of late was evidently confiscated from the intruders, whom, I can say with some confidence, will come to regret the day they entered the jungle with their unlimited data roaming contracts and too good to be true network connection.

Lessons to be learnt; I believe the old jungle saying is “there is no school like the old school, and the Phantom is headmaster!”

Peter Johnson, Stamford, UK

Who lit it

Will we ever know who lit that coil?

Who, who, who.

Owl ga.

Allen Lockington, Kava Place, Lautoka

Is it your job

Another question for Minister Premila Kumar – is it your job to raise funds for the Government?

Sukha Singh, Labasa

Traffic woes

Since school started on the 13, it has taken Nasinu residents two to two and a half hours to reach Suva every morning.

What a loss of productivity.

If that was me, to avoid being stuck in traffic every morning and afternoon, I’d just camp at Ratu Sukuna Park weekdays.

Wise Muavono, Balawa, Lautoka

Stay safe

With all due respect it seems like some members of our society are still prepared to enjoy themselves out in the rain and wind despite repeated warnings and reminders by authorities.

Looking through social media the other day, it was rather surprising to see children playing, swimming in floor areas and in one situation they were part of a group directing traffic despite heavy rain.

Let’s all stay safe and indoors this week but parents and guardians have an even greater role to monitor the whereabouts of their children.

Floyd Robinson, Toorak, Suva

Our environment

Good to read that the Minister for Environment will be penalising companies and individuals who damage the environment.

To start off, can the Environment Department penalise Water Authority of Fiji for all the raw sewage water that flow in the drains, FSC for emitting the black soot in the air and what about the controversial Kashmir development?

It will be interesting to see if the Environment Department does penalise these companies.

John Brown, Drasa Vitogo, Lautoka

Bus business

Commuting daily I notice bus drivers happily accepting cash.

I’ve observed on one trip they can accept up to five $2 coins.

Multiply that by the bus trips.

At end of the day the bus drivers are the winners.

After all, we all know the cameras installed on most buses are decorative.

Tania Shepherd, Nakasi

Wake up

The high number of school teachers travelling overseas during school holidays is a message in itself (FT/17/1).

Minister of Education better wake up!

Dan Urai, Lautoka

Telephone call

I read in The Fiji Times (17/1) that a headteacher resigned from overseas by telephone call to the ministry.

You know there is a saying “what goes around comes around”.

When you treat teachers that way you get your medicine back.

How does it feel now?

Nardeo Mishra, Suva

An interesting start

The next big event in January after New Year’s Day celebrations has to be the beginning of the new school year.

While most would consider December to be the busiest month, January is not too far off.

A lot starts to happen in January.

Personally, the best is normal time coincides with the new school year.

This January was busier.

Ban on single-use plastic bags less than 50 microns began.

Years ago, these single-use plastic bags were a must in school bags.

Even inside those blue Air Pacific bags. January means rain for us.

Beginning of school is almost synonymous with rain.

Those plastic bags were handy. Kept properly and reused.

Those were the simple days.

During exam time, stationery kept in plastic bags was not lost.

Unlike today, things go missing from branded expensive bags.

So what, we are now eco-friendly. We are in the era of “free education”.

Today when school begins, we have top-up issues, contracts, heads of schools appointment saga, expensive shopping, school visits, staff shortages, grants, student free days, students disciplinary issues, teacher complaints etc.

Side effect, traffic jams.

What else do we need?

The Education Ministry needs the school heads to inform them of extra teachers as some schools are short in staff.

Guess who appoints these teachers?

Unless this workload is shared with the Ministry of Agriculture.

These teachers are qualified and have to be registered to enter Fiji classrooms.

They even have an online system called Fiji Education Management Information System which has loads of data.

Those who have access can retrieve the birth registration number of students.

That level of intricacy.

The other interests resignation is being topped up by teachers resigning who went on overseas holiday.

What do we need now?

A new appointment.

Steps forward, a young and energetic Education Ministry national education service delivery unit head.

Phew!

I hope that came out right.

First up, excellent advice on kava and performance.

Sulu and kava has to be thrown in the bin.

And everything.

Some people will not be able to consume this advice easily.

No offence intended.

To those individuals out there, this is to curb littering.

Kava is only to be consumed when one has done a good job.

Unrelated, students will not sit for final exams if they do not improve their overall performance.

How will they be stopped?

It is a month which catches our ears and eyes. Like what I witnessed this week.

A group in the process of slaughtering a cow.

Normally, people use trees. To bring the cow down, they took the assistance of an Energy Fiji Ltd (EFL) electrical pole.

In January, which is also the noisiest month (firecrackers and drum beatings), education is on top of the agenda.

A month for enthusiastic beginnings and hope for betterment.

Sadly, for the teaching fraternity in Lautoka (and West), on the last student free day, a jovial assistant headteacher was rushed to the hospital from school.

He passed away in the afternoon of the first official school day.

He was 45 years old. Bro Sandeep, RIP.

On broader terms, education is paramount and will live on forever.

Mohammed Imraz Janif, Natabua, Lautoka

RIP master Rohitesh

It pained my heart to hear about the demise of a passionate and committed teacher and school administrator master Rohitesh Sandeep Kumar.

I got the bad news on the first day of school and as I sat shocked tears flowed freely.

I recollected memories of our friendship and those glorious moments that we spent together during weekends (when he drove down from Lautoka to Suva with his wife and three kids) and during the Fiji Teachers Union Annual Conferences for Rohitesh made sure that he attended all the FTU conferences, including his last FTU Annual Conference at Rishikul Sanatan College.

He made sure that his presence was felt, such was his jovial nature.

The late Rohitesh hailed from Bua but had spent quite some time in the Sugar City.

Sweet as sugar was his personality and relationship with his colleagues, friends and family members.

He had a wonderful PR and knew what team bonding was all about.

Apart from being a versatile teacher who was caring and compassionate, he was a role model as a leader and social worker and actively took part in a wide range of social, sporting and trade union activities, including activities carried out by the umbrella body — Fiji Trades Union Congress and Fiji Teachers Union.

Master Rohitesh was part of Lautoka Scouts and carried out his duties diligently.

Even when the scouters had their meeting this week his absence was greatly felt by all.

He was loved by those around him and this was evident with the amount of tributes that poured when news of his demise made the social media.

The late Rohitesh called me junior and made sure that we caught up with all our latest conversations at least once a week.

He had made a lot of friends and I’m pretty sure that people from all walks of life would have come together to celebrate the life of a wonderful and vibrant soul at the Girmit Centre in Lautoka.

Rohitesh’s sudden departure to everlasting eternal bliss was shocking and I pray that the good Lord provides his spouse Sima and their kids unrelenting strength to face the loss of their beloved husband and father.

Bro Rohitesh will be fondly remembered for his loving and caring attributes and for always having a smile on his face.

Isa, rest in peace bro and until our next meeting I’ll cherish the good times that we spent as brothers.

The vacuum that you have left will be hard to fill!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Fiji sevens rugby

I came across many people who said they will stop supporting Fiji and stop watching their games after the dismal performances in Dubai and Cape Town 7s.

Well, they were disappointed because no one likes to see their nation losing like that.

However, I think it’s not right to curse the players and coaches with bad words and swear at them publicly.

The team should always be our heroes because they showcase Fiji to the world with less facilities and less wages compared with other bigger nations.

The boys make so many sacrifices and give their best in every game they play.

The blood, sweat and tears they shed is what we all should always remain grateful to.

Win or lose, they should always be respected and loved because they play for us, as a nation, as Fiji!

So show the true Fijian pride come Hamilton Sevens next weekend and support our gladiators all the way!

Raynav Chand, Nakasi

McKee factor

I disagree with those who are calling for a change in the head coach of our 15s team.

I believe John McKee deserves another term as coach and we need to understand why?

Did FRU appoint an assistant coach to oversee the transition should McKee fail?

No!

The Fiji team defeated a tier 1 nation.

Who was the coach, John McKee!

Didn’t he bring joy?

Lastly, the pool draws in the RWC did not favour Fiji with the first two games played within a span of four to five days.

Fiji played the Wallabies and held its ground until the last quarter.

The first choice boys needed a rest.

The almost second string Fiji team against Uruguay had some big names who simply went to sleep mode and complacently lost.

McKee as coach did not fail alone!

The boys also failed in that team!

If McKee goes, will those players in the game against Uruguay also get the boot and no more games for Fiji again?

Your guess is good as mine.

They will come back so why can’t McKee?

We need to think outside the box and John deserves a third, not because I feel that way, but the FRU should analyse and also put him on notice for two years and review his performance.

Go Fiji, go, John joka dina.

Shalwyn Prasad, Mukta Ben Place, Nabua, Suva

Fading traditions

John Kamea’s article “A tradition fading away” (FT 16/01) about the fast disappearance of traditional weaving in villages is not only of great concern but this is just one of the many traditions that is quickly fading away.

The culture of a people is supposed to be their identity from which they are recognised.

Culture is a Latin word derived from “colore” meaning to practise or cherish.

Culture is complex in the sense that it includes arts, morals, customs, laws, knowledge, beliefs and other matters which should be learnt, and shared by men and women from one generation to another so that it doesn’t get lost.

Urbanisation and industrialisation have altered these social institutions bringing major change to traditions and culture.

It is absolutely important that our cultures and traditions are learned and shared and not lost in our progress towards Westernisation.

Simon Hazelman, Rava Estate, Savusavu

Head to head

It’s going to be a huge weekend for football fans as traditional rivals Liverpool and Manchester United will battle it head to head on Monday morning (Fiji time).

With United, being the only team not to have suffered a defeat at the hands of “The Reds” this season, will face a rage of fire when they walk down the tunnel at Anfield.

The two of the biggest globally in terms of trophies and achievements and fan base across the world, will once again grace the pitch in what is expected to be firecracker right from the first whistle.

Will it be Klopp’s Red Army or will the Youngsters of Solskjaer reign supreme?

Rivalry begins at home with myself being a United fan and my elder brother bleeding Liverpool’s Red.

Surely we will need dad to referee our battle in front of the TV!

Raynav Chand, Nakasi

Yellow cards

Kemudou, how many yellow cards and reds were given in the Coral Coast 7s?

Allen Lockington, Kava Place, Lautoka

Transfer window

Fiji FA has opened the transfer window for the players for a month and we see this year only a few players asking to change their district and not like other years.

Do you know why?

I believe the reason been that there are hardly any good players left and because there is hardly any club games at district level, no new players are coming in.

This is a very sad situation for Fiji soccer and if this trend continues, you can imagine where we will be in the next five years.

Nardeo Mishra, Suva

Ultimate task nears

Just to take a break from the unexpected first leg result, I refreshed my pain by watching the 2019 London and Paris 7s finals and the way we dispatched the USA in the knockout stage and Australia and NZ in the respective finals.

What I saw motivated me to support Gareth Baber and our boys more for I’m sure that our boys will fine-tune their performance from Dubai and Cape Town and like a roaring lion will switch back to the mood that made them win five back to back tournaments on the WRSS circuit.

Our boys showed signs of mental depression especially when they were denied possession and continuously penalised by some ‘very professional’ referees who turned a blind eye when teams such as NZ and South Africa committed the same offence.

Our boys must be prepared to face similar consequence in Hamilton for teams will want to control the tempo and let our boys play to their game plan.

Our boys need to switch on from the start and play the full 14 minutes while Baber must make the right substitute at the right time.

Furthermore, we must take the best and there should not be room for injured players.

South Africa has included Branco du Preez, Cecil Afrika and Werner Kok and has handed over the captain’s armband to exciting prospect Stedman Gans.

Baber has yet to name his squad but I’m pretty sure he will name the best as we fight to defend our title and improve on our disappointing sixth place ranking!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Sevens tournament

It was in early November 2000, about 20 years ago, the old Fiji National Training Council (FNTC) Hospitality Department based in Namaka, Nadi organised a sevens tournament at Lawaqa Park and invitations were sent out to all hospitality and service sectors to organise teams to commemorate FNTC Tourism Week.

In this tournament, the Nasinu based Police Mobile Unit were also invited.

They showed up with an unknown talent in their team list and this player gave spectators that day in Lawaqa a glimpse of what the world later has known as the Bua Bullet.

Rupeni Caucaunibuca came along with Police Mobile Team that day and his raw talent was unleashed to those that attended FNTC sponsored 7s tournament.

I was sitting alongside former Radio Fiji sports journalist, Pita Dovibua, FNTC staff members Jioji Cakacaka and the late Netava Baroka and Ilaitia Bani Vuki, we all agreed he is a Fiji 7s team material.

A year later Caucau made the Fiji 7s team and by 2002, he was whisked away to NZ Provincial Championship and later Super Rugby with the Auckland Blues when they won the Super Rugby in 2003.

In the 2003 World Cup in Australia, Caucau showed his speed and power in the match against France and Scotland and up to this day, his name sits among the greats in rugby.

I personally thank the organisers of Coral Coast Sevens 2020 for bringing Caucau back to Lawaqa and be part of this weekend excitement.

Like many old reps who have contributed so much to Fiji rugby, occasions such as this weekend’s tournament allow spectators to come to know the contribution made by these players over the past years.

Sa re!

Ilaitia Bose, Suva

Unhealthy nation

A sick nation is an unhappy nation.

A sick nation is an unproductive nation.

A nation that is suffering from an NCD epidemic, is a complaining, unproductive nation.

This is why I believe all we are hearing from every sector of our nation is complaints and too many excuses with little to no effort at hard work.

We observe this attitude on the streets, we read it in the newspapers, we witness it in our communities and we nurture it in our homes.

Poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, overuse of alcohol and kava, an unhealthy diet and a lack of physical activity are key contributors to the development and progression of non-communicable diseases throughout our nation.

Currently, we are suffering from the dreadful symptoms of NCDs in that we seem to have a whole lot of issues that we are struggling to get a grip on because our minds are clouded and we can’t move and act fast and smart enough.

It’s sad to see that the epidemic is prevalent in all our government sectors including our Education Ministry, our police force, our medical department, our agriculture sector, and pretty much every other sector and department.

The focus by Government, the private sector, and all other institutions ought to be on healthy living and exercise.

This will help control ones weight, reduce NCDs, improve mental health and mood, and most importantly, clear our thinking, learning, and judgement.

At present we are our own worst enemy and if we don’t change for the better, nothing will work out as we are not in the right frame of mind or physicality.

Wake up, walkabout and smell the roses!

Simon Hazelman, Rava Estate, Savusavu

Cherrypicked letter

Being employed in the hotel industry and having visited numerous hotels and resorts around the country in the past two decades, I find Mani’s letter (FT 11/01) rather cherrypicked.

No doubt offering of “smiles and bula” can be selective, but the problem, which is not necessarily sectoral, is much larger than what Mani states.

In fact, the scourge is not limited to any racial denomination but rather on certain factors.

For one, skin colour no doubt has clout, as a white person is almost certain to find smiling and affable reception.

Second, your nationality and residential status carries weight, as it did in Mani’s case.

And then comes the eminent ones, who no doubt often experience servile reception and obsequious service.

Being a local, I have quite often encountered staff who often deigned to serve even in prominent holiday destinations!

Bimal Prasad, Newtown Rd, Wailoaloa, Nadi

Civil service

I remember my days in the Civil Service when we were visited by the government auditors.

There was no notice of them coming.

When you went to work one Monday the auditors would be there, they took the office door keys and they did what they had to do.

Now I read that teachers are upset with the visit from the minister.

Why?

Won’t that be the best opportunity to table the issues they are facing?

But it’s rather unusual for the minister to be doing the school visits, what has happened to the senior education officers who used to do this in the past?

Well, from this I can gather that the Education Ministry could do with some clean-up, if the senior officers are not trusted.

Allen Lockington, Kava Place, Lautoka

Devastating bushfires

As Australia fights an unprecedented bushfire season, fuelled by record temperatures and widespread drought, our neighbour has received tremendous support from world leaders amid the devastating bushfires that has killed millions of wildlife and 29 people and damaged infrastructure.

About 2000 houses were destroyed as Australia prepares frantically for worsening conditions.

In his address to his counterpart Scott Morrison, Fijian PM Voreqe Bainimarama expressed sympathy for the loss of life and devastation caused by the bushfires and he also saluted the extraordinary bravery of Australians including the firefighters and other volunteers.

In the spirit of vuvale and gesture of help an engineering platoon was on standby to help contain the bushfire.

The Vanuatu government gave about $F377,529 to the Rural Fire Service of Australia.

The President of the Federated States of Micronesia described the wildfires as a humanitarian crisis while PNG offered to send 1000 emergency personnel to help Australia deal with the deadly bushfires.

In Fiji religious groups joined hands to pray for Australia while Communications Fiji Ltd has launched a fundraising campaign to help those who have suffered from the raging bushfires.

After all, this is what humanity is about and I’m grateful for every little thing that every Fijian has done in times of Australia’s bushfire crisis.

My prayers and sympathies are with every Australian and I am extremely saddened with the loss of human life and the lives of wild animals.

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Cyclone season

Another cyclone is knocking the doors of the Fiji waters and is expected to enter Fiji this weekend.

My plea to all parents is to take care of their children and to be prepared for natural disasters like these.

During Tropical Cyclone Sarai, I saw some children swimming in flooded rivers and upon going past them, they signalled to join them.

Hopefully the havoc mercifully spares our beautiful island nation.

To all the people, please stay safe.

Raynav Chand, Nakasi

Australian bushfires

Citing the catastrophic bushfires in Australia, the world famous naturalist Sir David Attenborough said climate change “moment of crisis has come” (ABC news 17/1).

Actually, for some people in the Pacific and in other parts of the world the climate change crisis had arrived quite some time back.

Remember the climate change deniers in the coalition saw it fit to poke fun and laugh at the Pacific Islanders’ fears over their dire predicament.

Are they laughing now?

Rajend Naidu, Sydney, Australia

Coral Coast 7s

What started in 2010 as a way of combining two great assets of Fiji- the coral coast and 7s rugby has today grown tremendously.

Red Rock after defeating Army in the final etched its name into history books after winning the inaugural Coral Coast 7s tournament.

The man behind the success of this wonderful 7s tournament Jay Whyte deserves appreciation for the work that he has done in getting a host number of high-profile players and officials to Fiji.

The likes of Bryan Habana, renowned referee Rasta Rasivhenge, Waisale Serevi, Lote Tuqiri, Ben Gollings, Sir Gordon Tietjens, DJ Forbes and Ben Ryan have been part of the tournament.

I can imagine what the situation would be like if FRU works with the likes of Rene Munch and Jay Whyte in promoting our 7s team.

We should be able to attract potential investors to be part of sponsorship, something that our Olympic gold medalists deserve.

On the other hand, one should be ready for fireworks on day two as the Coral Coast 7s enters into the elimination round.

The two in-form teams Tabadamu and Police will be out to wrest the cup which the Police outfit will be defending after shutting out Tabadamu (17-0) under heavy conditions in last year’s final with tries scored by Filipe Sauturaga, Necani Nawaqadau and Rusiate Matai.

In 2018 Police had defeated First Light Taveuni 34-7.

In the eliminations Tabadamu will rely on the likes of Leo Naikasau, Terio Tamani, Jone Vota, Daniele Cakaunivalu, Josevani Soro, Anasa Qaranivalu, Glen Cakautini, Paula Nayacakalou and Petero Nakelevanua while the star-studded Police outfit will have the services of Sakeo Railoa, former 7s stars Samisoni Viriviri, Joeli Lutumailagi and Kitione Taliga, Keponi Paul, Filipe Sauturaga and Rusiate Matai.

Surprisingly Police lost to Tabadamu during the semi-finals last week.

Other teams to look out for would be last week’s finalists Raiwasa Resort Taveuni (which is laced with upcoming stars like Netani Natavo, Tomasi Bulai, Josefa Dratoga, Samu Tamatanivalu, Selemo Ravutumada, Peni Ramulo and Mena Qadravu) and First Light Taveuni, Nadroga Stallions, Ratu Filise and Uluinakau.

Finally, I’m thankful to Fiji One for airing the 2020 Coral Coast 7s live.

This partnership is surely going to spread the gospel of rugby at grass-root level. Hence, my best wishes to the organisers and the participating teams!

Rajnesh Ishwar Lingam, Nadawa, Nasinu

Kava consumption

The abuse of kava I believe is the major cause of our unproductiveness, laziness, mindlessness, and sickness.

Newly appointed Education Ministry National Education Services Delivery Unit head, Timoci Bure, is absolutely right in saying that school heads should throw the sulu and kava away in the bin (FT:16/01).

The mere fact that teachers are abusing kava says a lot about our education system.

As I’ve been saying time and time again, kava is a mind-altering substance and teachers should refrain from drinking it as they need to be alert and vigilant at all times. I believe consuming kava only makes them sluggish and unable to speak and think clearly.

Kava is no different from alcohol in that it alters the mind into a delusional unstable state.

I believe what is happening now is that kava is allowed to be consumed anywhere and everywhere.

Imagine if we did the same with alcohol?

Like alcohol, kava should not be tolerated in places of work and government needs to seriously look into permanently banning its use in all professional places of work.

Simon Hazelman, Rava Estate, Savusavu

Rugby referees

While I thank the referees participation in the Coral Coast 7s, could someone analyse their performance please. It’s not to put them down but to gauge their performance.

Allen Lockington, Kava Place, Lautoka

Bus fare increase saga

The call by the bus operators for an increase in bus fares and the subsequent response from the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission that a review should not be rushed (FT 14/01), perhaps allows for the adoption of a more pragmatic and holistic approach to the whole bus transportation issue in Fiji rather than a piecemeal one.

Apparently, there has not been a real increase in bus fare for 10 years now.

Bus fares are basically the main source of income for the operators and with the purported increases in operational costs to unprofitable levels, some bus companies, according to reports, are barely surviving.

There are obviously two main sides to the issue — the travelling public and the bus companies.

In terms of the travelling public, the issue revolves around the affordability and ability to pay for any fare increases; household and personal income levels; and the relationships between wage/salary levels and the annual inflation rates/cost of living.

In terms of the bus industry, the issue revolves around the efficiency in the operations and management of the bus companies; the commercial and business environment including duty relief, concessions and incentives; the viability of routes serviced and so on.

The current situation, just may provide us with the opportunity to relook at these from a holistic perspective.

Perhaps, as part of this we could relook at the abovementioned issues, including issues such as the adequacy of bus operations servicing bus routes and schedules; the conditions of buses; road conditions; codes of conduct for drivers, bus boys and the travelling passengers; training of drivers in defensive driving; smoke emission and so on.

“Thinking outside the box,” we might even try to look at the whole issue of nationalising our bus industry, at least for some parts of it.

In this regard, probably examining the introduction of a franchise system for unserviceable and unprofitable routes, while maintaining a win-win situation for all.

This is apart from a holistic approach to re-examining household income levels and the ability for households to generate income from other sources; the minimum wage levels; and the concessionary bus fares currently granted to the public.

I believe that for all concerned, there should not be too much of a delay in resolving the current “crisis,” or it just may be the “death knell” for some bus operators.

Edward Blakelock, Admiral Circle, Pacific Harbour

Best award

The best award I get from the letters I write is when someone comes up to me and tells me “I read your letter”.

Thanks Shalwyn Prasad for the triple “S” award suggestion.

Sukha Singh, Labasa

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