The Lanka Private Bus Owners Association (LPBOA) yesterday urged the government to appoint Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the Private Transport Services Ministry Secretary because he would be able to remedy the grievances of private bus operators.
LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeyratne told a news conference that the present Ministry Secretary Victor Samaraweera would be retiring soon and he should be replaced by Mr. Rajapaksa who he said would stop the illegal activities in the bus industry.
He said according to informed sources a proposal was to be submitted to the Cabinet soon to increase bus fares, which he charged was a violation of the National Bus Transport Policy.
“According to the transport policy, bus fares can only be amended each year in July. However an increase in bus fares is permitted in case the price of diesel goes up by a minimum of 4%,” Mr. Wijeyratne said.
He said private bus operators requested for bus-fare increase in February this year when the price of a litre of diesel rose by Rs.6 but since there had not been an increase in the price of diesel any move to increase bus fares would be illegal and would further burden the people with the increasing cost of living.
Mr. Wijeratne said bus operators were burdened with paying overhead costs such as route permit charges, annual license fees, log sheet fares and insurance payments which were increased recently.
“We are asking the authorities to reduce all overhead charges until July this year and to then increase bus fares,” he said. (Olindhi Jayasundere)