Government launches new bus routes as VAT on gasoil is removed
BEIRUT: The Public Works and Transportation Ministry is set to operate 27 additional buses across Greater Beirut, a statement issued Friday said, as a law removing VAT on gasoil and diesel became effective.
The statement said the ministry had finalized restoration works on the buses – which had been nonoperational since the 1990s – in September last year. But it was not clear why the government had delayed putting these buses back into service.
Public Works and Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi said the step aimed to curb arbitrary fare increases reported on some privately run buses and minivans in the city.
“These public buses will help keep transportation fares balanced by giving customers the option to commute at fixed official rates,” he said.
The new buses will be operate on three different routes from Dora to Mathaf, Cola to Hadath, and UNESCO Palace to Damour, according to the statement.
But transportation experts said Greater Beirut still requires an additional 200 buses to reach an adequate level of public transportation service.
The ministry’s Railway and Public Transportation Department currently operates buses on 27 different lines across Beirut.
The Cabinet recently authorized the ministry to acquire 20 new buses, priced at $52,000 each.
Meanwhile, red gasoil and diesel prices decreased Friday after a recent decision to remove the VAT on the two fuels became effective.
Gasoil and diesel are now priced at LL28,700 and LL28,800, down by LL2,800 and LL2,900 respectively.
Gasoline prices increased again Wednesday with the price of 98-octane graded fuel up by LL700, while 95-octane graded fuel increased by LL600.
Lebanon’s transportation unions announced a strike and demonstrations on April 19 after fuel prices continued the upward trend Wednesday.
The unions reiterated that high gasoline prices are taking a heavy toll on their business, adding that delays in curbing violations have led them to call for this strike.
Labor unions have repeatedly called for price ceilings on gasoline and gas oil at LL25,000 and LL20,000 respectively.
Separately, various associations representing oil transportation and distribution companies announced a strike scheduled for March 15.
They reiterated that the Energy Ministry has not updated profit shares for such companies since 2002, leaving them vulnerable to sharp rises in operation costs.