Lanka Private Bus Owners Association (LPBOA) President Gamunu Wijeratne said today the government had lost Rs. 100 million due to the issuing of what he called ‘illegal route permits’.
“We have written to the Western Province Chief Secretariat regarding the issuing of illegal route permits in the Western Province incurring a loss of Rs. 100 millions to the government. She has informed us in a reply that an investigation is being carried out into the matter. A gazette notification has been issued stating that a newspaper notice should be published before issuing route permits. But about 200 permits have been issued going against the gazette notification during the last four and half years. Mr. Wijeratne said.
He challenged western province transport minister Upali Kodikara to an open debate if he had published any newspaper article to issue route permits as stipulated in the gazette notification during his tenure.
“I challenge that the Western Province Transport Minister has not issued any newspaper article to issue route permits during the last four and half years. I even requested the president to hold an impartial investigation regarding this route permit fraud,” he said.
Mr. Wijeratne said they had lost about Rs. 5 million due to strikes last four and half years and paid about Rs. 26 billion as ransom to extortionists by bus operators. “Most of the strikes were the result of route permit issues”.
He also said the bus industry had faced a huge crisis in the recent past and said according to the Central Bank report the import of passenger buses had reduced to less than 1000 buses in 2013 where as it was 3095 in 2012 and 4248 in 2011.
Mr. Wijeratne said that 20% of the people had moved away from the bus service between 2008 to 2013 and resort to other travel modes like three- wheelers and it would be doubled within another 5 years. “The Government should be responsible for this collapse of the bus industry. The private bus industry would be completely disappeared by 2016, unless the government addresses our issues.”
Commenting on the introduction of pre-paid card system for passenger buses, he said the Government should take a policy decision to make the pre-paid cards compulsory, which would be the best solution due to the lack of coins.(Ajith Siriwardana & Sanath desmond)
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