23 Mar 2010

Tonga bus operators go ahead with strike over fee hike

4:50 pm on 23 March 2010

Buses are off the road in Tonga as operators strike to push for the government to cut a huge hike in fees earlier this year.

They are angry at increases in the annual licence fee from just over 46 US dollars to 216 dollars and the registration fee from 28 US dollars to 162 dollars.

The plans for the strike had been shelved yesterday afternoon after a verbal assurance from the Government that it would cut the higher fees.

But our correspondent Mateni Tapueluelu says a meeting last night reversed this position and the buses are not operating today.

"According to the meeting they had last night they were not happy with the reply from Government. They want something in writing - they are not happy with a verbal confirmation from the Minister and the Transportation Department that they would decrease it, the fees and the licence rates."

Mateni Tapueluelu says the strike has caused lengthy queues as people used private vehicles to get into Nuku'alofa.