By JIMMY KALEBE
THE recent increase in fuel prices coupled with poor road conditions along the Highlands Highway have forced PMV operators to increase fares.
The National spoke to a number of PMV crews in Lae yesterday who said they felt the impact of the rising price of fuel and deteriorating road conditions and were “rightly” passing the costs onto service users.
A crew with a Lae-Madang PMV bus “Wangs” Gags Saul said the normal fare was K50 but they increased it to K70 because of the fuel price and associated expenses.
“We cross rivers and bad sections of the highway which locals clear and later charge us between K50 and K100 to cross,” he said.
“We encounter a lot of costs in order to transport our passengers from one end to the other.”
Saul said previously they paid about K120 for a full tank for one way Lae-Madang for their 15-seater bus.
Now it costs K180 a tank.
Saul said when PMV owners did not make enough money, they sometimes did not pay their crew properly and on time.
Robert Minar, another bus crew who travels between Lae and Mt Hagen, had a similar story.
Minar said when fuel price was at K2.20 per litre, they charge K50 per passenger but now with the price at K3.10 per litre, the bus fare increased to K80.
“The increase in fuel prices has added to an already existing problem of bad road conditions along the highway starting from Zumin in Markham, Morobe, to Waghi Valley in Jiwaka,” he said.
Minar said armed hold-ups, clearing of landslips and washed away roads by locals exacerbated the situation, leaving owners with little or no profit in the end.
Minar said a full tank for a 25-seater bus from Lae to Goroka cost K200.
“We have to fill K300 fuel and then top-up in Goroka with another K120 to reach Mt Hagen,” he said.
The current one-way trip fares stand at: Lae to Goroka, K40 (used to be K30), Lae to Chimbu, K50 (used to be K40), Lae to Mt Hagen, K70 (used to be K50) and Lae to Madang is K70 (used to be K50).
THE Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) last week said it does not expect the retail price of petrol, diesel and kerosene to increase further.
ICCC chief executive officer and commissioner Paulus Ain said business houses and service providers such as public transport must not charge consumers too much as they could face legal action.
By JIMMY KALEBE