Secretary for Transport and Public Works Lau Si Io confirmed Monday that one of the major shareholders of the new bus company which will take over Reolian’s service at the beginning of next month is TCM – one of the city’s two other bus operators.
Lau made the revelation before attending a legislative committee meeting.
The government announced in the Official Gazette (BO) Monday that Chief Executive Chui Sai On has authorised Lau to sign on behalf of the government a bus service contract, based on public concession rules, with Macau New Era Public Buses S.A. to operate the routes currently run by Reolian which went bankrupt last year.
State-owned enterprise Nam Kwong Group said in early 2012 that it had bought shares in TCM with its subsidiary China Travel Service (Macau) Ltd to become TCM’s biggest shareholder.
TCM was previously owned by local businessman Ng Fok, who founded the bus company in 1986..
Lau also said while the government understood that the public expected the government to launch a tender for Reolian’s routes, this was not possible because of time constraints.
Lau reiterated that the government chose New Era because it has experience in running a passenger transport service in Macau and it promised to take over Reolian’s assets and hire all its employees.
When asked if the arrangement might negatively impact the government’s declared intention of improving the city’s public bus service as one company would possibly dominate the sector, Lau said, “I understand people’s concerns, but everyone knows that Macau is a small market for a public [bus] service. No one wants to see the situation [in which a bus operator goes bankrupt] occur again.”
Meanwhile, Transport Bureau (DSAT) Director Wong Won told reporters yesterday the length of the contract with the new operator is just three years. He made the comments in his bureau.
Wong emphasised that the three public bus companies after the end of this month will be running independently from each other. He said that even though the new operator is partly owned by TCM, the two companies – New Era and TCM – will be run separately.
TCM and Transmac ran the city’s public bus service as a duopoly until Reolian started operating in August 2011, when the government launched its “new model” for the city’s public bus sector. Reolian filed for bankruptcy in October last year.
Wong reiterated that the gov-ernment did not consider whether the new company is financed with capital from the mainland when choosing a company to take over Reolian’s service.
Wong reaffirmed that New Era is willing to take over Reolian’s assets and has promised that the salaries and benefits of all Reolian employees remain unchanged, apart from the fact that its major shareholder TCM has passenger transport service experience in Macau. He said this was the reason why the government chose it to take over Reolian’s service.
The government temporarily took over Reolian’s ill-fated service after the local-French joint venture went belly up last October.
Meanwhile, the Portuguese radio channel of government broadcaster TDM reported Monday that New Era has a capital of 50 million patacas. Without saying how it got the information, Radio Macau said without elaborating that the new company was headed by O Hoi Fan.(macaunews/macaupost)