The Private Bus Owners Association (PBOA) yesterday alleged that illegal route permits for expressways, distributed by officials, was rapidly decreasing businesses for private buses on normal routes along the Galle Road and connecting roads.
The Association said a large number of passengers on the short distance bus services have reduced and the number of passengers as a whole was reducing by the day.
PBOA President Gamunu Wijerathna said the illegal distribution of route permits, coupled with the discrepancies within the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and the private bus system were the main culprits for the diminishing business.
Officials from the National Transport Commission (NTC) and the Private Transport Ministry indiscriminately sold route permits for Rs. 15 million, Wijerathne alleged. “They should call for tenders to hand over the permits but they haven’t. The ministry has done no service for the people, they have only managed to give illegal route permits,” he said.
Wijerathne lamenting the impending death of the private bus service said 1,500 passengers stopped using short term buses per day. “When permits are given to alternative routes, buses along the usual routes travel slowly and make a loss. But people have now stopped using the service as it is time consuming. This is leading the private bus industry to its doom, which is sure to come within three years,” he said.
Bus owners were demanding for a strike to fulfil their demands, Wijerathne said. “However, we have decided to speak to relevant officials before coming to a decision,” he said.
Commenting on the amendments to bus fares, Wijerathne said the NTC would not have total control over the process. “We will speak to all the provincial councils and ensure the amendments are made for each individual province and not for the country as a whole,” he said.(Darshana Sanjeewa)