Written by Nathasha De Alwis
16 May, 2018 | 12:28 am
COLOMBO (News 1st) – Private Bus Owners say they do not welcome the decision of the cabinet of ministers to increase the bus fares by 6.56%. They have threatened to launch a strike action from midnight tomorrow (May 16) if they do not receive a 20% price increase.
Earlier on Tuesday (May 15th) the cabinet granted approval to increase bus fares taking into consideration the price hike in diesel and other related factors. According to the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ashok Abeysinghe, as per the cabinet paper, the decision was to increase the prices by 6.56% and the minimum bus fare was to remain unchanged. He stated that this will come into effect from midnight for both SLTB and Private Buses.
Chairman of the Private Bus Owners’ Association, Gemunu Wijeratne stated that they cannot agree to the 6.5% increase as they have to wait for another one year for the bus fares to increase. He said if the diesel price goes up by 6 or 7 rupees that would have to bear that as well and that this is an injustice done to them by the National Transport Commission. According to Gemunu, Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva should take complete responsibility for the situation. Wijeratne warned that they will have to step away from regular services by Thursday due to this injustice.
President of the Inter-Provincial Private Bus Association, Sarath Vijithakumara also stated that they do not agree with the increase in prices as the fares should have gone up by at least 15%. Secretary of the Inter-Provincial Private Bus Association, Anjana Priyanjith also expressed the same views and stated that they are ready to launch a strike.
Deputy Minister of Transport, Ashok Abeysinghe stated that if the private buses go on strike, steps will be taken to ensure that all SLTB buses are put into operation. The deputy minister plans on doing this by cancelling the holidays of all drivers and conductors. He added that in the event of a private bus strike, train services will also be stepped up.
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