New bus service a welcome sight

We greet the news of the city’s new bus service with a sigh of relief and an overwhelming sense of respite.

It is a service that a growing city like Port Moresby urgently needs, not only for its citizens, but also for our visitors, both local tourists and international visitors.

People pay to receive an honest and reliable service where their safety is also guaranteed.

We don’t need racing drivers, dressed like ‘rambos’ with a mouthful of buai and dribbling spits trailing out the driver’s window at every turn.

The city has long seemed to have a consistent, reliable, on-time bus service, making its trips and delivering its passengers safely to their destination.

There was no chewing buai, smoking tobacco, and courtesy was extended to mothers, children, the disabled, and the elderly.

This was appreciated in the 1970s in Port Moresby, where the defunct Port Moresby Bus Company served the capital with distinction and pride.

The roads were fewer and the bus stops, sometimes just a sign in places, were even further away among the grassy patches.

But the buses drove until the last light of day. The elders remember buying bus tickets for their journey.

There were seats on the sides of the buses and standing room in the aisle. There were hangers and handrails to hold on to for added security.

Then a clever Alec decided that the city should be stripped of this service and Papua New Guineans should be allowed to participate in the provision of buses and taxis.

At first, it was reliable and consistent with acceptable practices. We remember Pagini’s fleet of taxis and the unforgettable Buang Taxies, owned and operated by Morobeans from Wau, Bulolo and Buang, hence the famous brand.

But then buses appeared with drivers who disobeyed the rules of the road and felt safe from traffic police.

They are the ones crying foul over the introduction of the city’s new bus service. Rather than mobilizing and harassing innocent civilians, the bus operators must take stock of the situation they have created over the years and try to be part of the new culture that the NCDC is bringing to the city.

Port Moresby is our capital. It is a growing city of one million people.

We need a service that does not discriminate against school children, the elderly, people with disabilities and travellers.

The impunity with which these operators took over the roads speaks for itself.

Driven by greed and profit, they have absolutely no respect for traffic laws, which has led to a severe drop in service, unnecessary accidents and even death and destruction.

The main roads in and around the city are 4 lanes, bus stops and proper shelters have been provided, but these buses speed through the city with no regard for safety, breaking every rule in the book.

Some buses are unroadworthy, unregistered and driven by unlicensed drivers.

All of this is happening under the eyes of the traffic police and the Road Transport Authority.

Many buses have rotten iron beds for seats, others have broken floors and missing windows. A few years ago, when the late Jamie Maxtone-Graham was Minister of Health, a law was passed that banned smoking on buses.

Nowadays, a non-smoker who asks another passenger to stop smoking must do so at their own risk.

Taxis have filled the void where buses don’t go.

But without meters, they charge whatever rate they want.

Their reasoning is that fuel prices have gone up, so they have to pass the cost on to the poor customer.

The government must re-examine this taxi meter problem and ensure that the law is finally enforced.

Thanks to NCDC and Governor Powes Parkop for the Eda bus service.

People who use it should also take care of it. It took 10 years to come to fruition.

We must use it with pride. Incredible Moresby.

Melvin Z. Madore