RAMALLAH - The Palestinian bus company union held a protest Monday against the Palestinian Authority
's opening of the market to dozens of new private bus companies.
The Palestinian ministry of transportation plans to license 35 new private transport companies, raising fears of competition and a crowding of the market among the existing public operators.
If the government needs private companies, then we can provide that, said Khalil Rishmawi, general manager of the Beit Sahour bus company, but it shouldn't bring in new operators.
The transportation sector was deeply altered when the second Palestinian intifada
broke out in 2000, as established routes were severed by new Israeli checkpoints, and unlicensed drivers stepped in to fill the gap.
In recent years, Palestinian security and police have been able to crack down on illegal operators in areas under Palestinian security control, easing the move to private operators.