By Gary Hatigeva
BUSES are still running the illegal short routes and operating with invalid licences, according to recorded data.
The new bus route Honiara City bylaw is well in its second month of implementation.
This goes to show that these service providers continue to disobey the authorities despite warnings being issued time and time and again.
Following a good number of Facebook uploads on buses being caught running these routes, Island Sun visited the HCC for updates and got confirmation that a lot of bus operators and drivers still choose to defy the authority.
Ms Freda Nokari of the HCC Law Enforcement Unit when interviewed revealed that over 20 cases have been reported to the authorities in the past few days alone, and that are of buses cited to have carried on with the banned routes.
Nokari however added that around 17 buses were processed after being held and have appeared in court for breach of the HCC ordinance on bus routes and licences.
Based on the reported cases, Nokari said the Unit is now working in close collaboration with the Honiara Police Traffic to crack down on these buses and if caught, will surely face charges and are expected to appear in court, and will pay a hefty fine if found guilty.
Meanwhile, HCC says Social Media continues to play a vital role in updating and informing the general public and seeing that most of the buses caught are also uploaded onto face book, the general public especially social media users are urged to use the HCC page to report these cases.
“People with complaints and cases are most welcome to visit the HCC Law Enforcement Unit if they find similar happenings,” Nokari reminded.
The authority however calls on bus owners especially employees to obey what the authority has put in place and reminded that it will be their (buses) loss if the authority catches up on them.
“Honiara is just a small city, so you will always be caught.
“Citizen Journalism is at play, with the simple mobile phone cameras at work in every corners, streets, and junctions of Honiara,” another commentator stressed.
“Remember, it is a hefty fine if found guilty so take note of that, unless if you are prepared to pay such fines,” a spokesperson from the office of the Honiara City Mayor emphasised when contacted yesterday.
“The Bus Route Ordinance came into force in early January and all bus operators are expected to comply with,” the spokesperson said.
He explained that under the new protocol, HCC expects all buses to pay their annual business licences and work within their allocated destinations.
The Mayor was not available to respond to queries on this, but the spokesperson who wishes not to be named reiterated the Mayors earlier warnings, emphasising that buses failing to comply will face a penalty of $20,000 and they can also risk losing their operational (business licences).
The short route issue continues to pop, making headlines in most of the local forums on social media, which attracted wide discussions, having also suggested that the authorities need to put heavier penalties, with the inclusion of strong monitoring mechanisms.
Commuters interviewed have also suggested that with the ignorance of bus drivers and conductors, HCC must strongly monitor and punish those who do not comply.
They said HCC’s attempt to monitor these activities has been very weak and ignorant buses usually take advantage of the peak hours where lesser eyes from the authorities are sensed especially in the morning and during lunch hours.
Others however felt that a boost to the monitoring activities or measures will only drain HCC both in its resources and finances.
They further suggested that an alternative but effective approach would be to increase the penalty for offenders.
The spokesperson however warned that disobedience of buses, by committing these same offences and are caught more than ones, could also lead to them (buses) losing their business or operational licences.