Tongatapu bus drivers go on strike

Thousands of Tongatapu bus users could still be disrupted by strike action if the government of Lord Tu’ivakano would not make a positive response to a formal request launched in February 2014 by the ‘Otu Motu Anga’ofa Bus Association asking to remove taxes charged on diesel and spare parts.

Kaniva’s correspondent in Tonga said the strike this morning left thousands of school students, employees and commuters stranded at bus stops as the island grappled with its first such strike in history.

On February 21 the bus association had formally written to Tu'ivakano asking him to intervene and remove the consumption taxes but had since received no reponse.

Samipeni Finau, President of the Bus Association told media today they submitted another letter to the Prime Minister on April 7. The Prime Minister was informed in that letter that all bus operators will go on strike on April 14 until an agreement could be reached.

‘Aholotu Palu, Acting Secretary to Cabinet responded on April 10 and told the Association the Competent Autority advised the Prime Minister against its request, Finau reportedly said.

Kaniva contacted the Prime Minister's Office and it said Tu'ivakano and the Acting Secretary are out of the country.

Submitting the letter to the Prime Minister on February 21, Finau claimed the last bus fare rise was  in October 2008 and since then petroleum prices increased almost every month making it hard for bus owners to meet maintenance and fuel expenses.

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