Blocked cards prohibit early bus ride

The FBOA decided that operators would stop transporting students Government had announced in the 2019-2020 budget that the restrictions were being placed to stop abuse of the e-transport cards and that the cards were to be used between 6:30am to 9:00am and 2:30pm and 5:00pm. Picture: FILE/REINAL CHAND

A DIRECTIVE by Government to place restriction on the usage of subsidised eTransport cards by students within specified hours prohibited bus operators from taking students home in the adverse weather last week.

Government had announced in the 2019-2020 National Budget that the restrictions were being placed to stop the abuse of the eTransport cards and that the cards were to be used between 6.30am and 9am and between 2.30pm and 5pm.

With flooding on Friday, the Ministry of Education ordered schools to close early.

Fiji Bus Operators Association president Nisar Ali said he was aware his members could not take students home before 2.30pm.

“We have highlighted this issue to the Ministry of Education and we hope there is some consultation with us,” he said.

“Eventually we will be blamed for not taking the students home.” Mr Ali said teachers also needed to assess the situation and if they could hold back students until 2.30pm, they should, rather than sending them home. Flying Prince Transport in Rakiraki received calls from schools to take students home early because of flooding on the routes they serviced.

“We were not able to do this because the cards can only be used after 2.30pm,” said director Satendra Kumar. Mr Kumar had also called for this policy to be reviewed so students’ lives are not endangered.

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