Some bus drivers and taxi operators are expressing concerns as it relates to the new Highway Maintenance Levy recently put in place by government.
They say if taxes on vehicles are raised, bus fares must be raised as well.
“I believe if the tax is raised the bus fees should be increased too,” one St Joseph driver told DNO. “Because it’s a strain on us bus drivers.”
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Roosevelt Skerrit during his presentation of the National Budget for the fiscal year 2015-2016, held at parliament on Friday, revealed that effective September 1st, vehicle owners will be asked to pay a highway maintenance levy which will go towards maintaining the country’s main highways.
Dominica News Online (DNO) took to the streets on Tuesday to receive reaction from some bus drivers/taxi operators in relation to the matter.
“That extra tax will put a strain on me,” the St. Joseph driver said. “I mean we didn’t make trouble when diesel and gas went up and then government want to put that on us…bus drivers wouldn’t be able to take that.”
He believes that bus drivers and taxi operators should come together for a meeting to discuss the matter.
Another driver, from Fond Cole bus, said the cost is too high.
He is suggesting that government charge a lower fee to start-up the process and increase it gradually.
“I don’t mind they put a first $50, when we get use to it then they might put another $50, when we get use to it again put another $50,” he indicated. “You don’t just put a $150 just like that. My insurance I paying now to cover the bus and all the passengers is $6,000 … then to pay license fee and Highway Maintenance Levy is too much.”
He revealed he had discussions on Tuesday with other bus driver concerning the matter and the majority of them were not in favour.
“I don’t think anyone would accept that,” a bus driver from Mahaut told DNO.
He too believes that when the new tax comes into effect bus fares must to be raised.
“When this comes in effect automatically the bus fee will have to be raised,” he stated. “When the bus fee is raised up some way somehow the passengers have to pay it too, just like how we are paying because it is a normal thing.”
He said he has no problems with the new tax as long as the government make sure road conditions are improved.
“The road conditions have to be upgraded…make sure all the roads are proper,” he pointed out. “The government must make sure that the monies go towards road maintenance.”
Another St Joseph bus drivers noted that he doesn’t believe bus drivers should pay extra for road tax, considering the fact that most of them don’t make a lot of money on a day-to-day basis.
“Normally St Joe line running St Joe line … when we make one trip in the morning we have to wait three hours to make another trip in the afternoon. That means it doesn’t have a lot of people traveling,” he noted. “That going to hurt us bad because we are not making the type of money. We pay about $780 for license, when you add the $150 we will be paying about $930 and we are not making that kind of money.”
He added, “We have tires to buy, sometimes your bus breaks down, sometimes we have to apply for another loan in the bank to fix your vehicle. There are pot holes in the roads and no one is fixing it.”
The new rates (in addition to what is being paid) are as follows:
-Commercial vehicles: $150 per year
-Trucks and dumpers: $150 per year
-Private vehicles: $100 per year
-Motorcycles: 50 per year