Minister of Power and Energy, Kanchana Wijesekera said, after identifying and establishing a list of full-time three-wheeler operators, a suggestion has been made to implement a system to distribute fuel to three-wheelers, with the help of Pradeshiya Sabhas (PS) and the Police.
He said, the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) depots will be provided with sufficient fuel for SLTB buses, and all private buses involved in public transportation and having route permits can obtain fuel from there. He instructed private bus drivers to avoid utilising other fuel stations and instead purchase fuel from SLTB depots, thereby avoiding congestion at other filling stations.
He explained that as the health sector has requested a specific fuel allocation, medical personnel, working in emergency essential services, will be able to receive petrol on Fridays from designated filling stations, depending on their closeness to hospitals. “This method will be used by Police officers too. Those who work in the sectors of power and water supply, as well as those who provide services, will be able to receive fuel through this method. Attention should also be called to giving priority to issuing fuel to cars operating in export-oriented fields on a specific day of the week, as they create much-needed revenue and dollars for the country,” he said.
The Minister pointed out that three-wheelers consume the majority of the country’s fuel, including fuel hoarding, as evidenced by social media posts. He noted that people are not required to register, but that the Police and the Pradeshiya Sabha will notify the relevant three-wheeler owners of the filling station to which they have been assigned. Wijesekara told the media yesterday (19), at the Ministry of Power and Energy that, in addition, buses and vans used for inbound tourism will be accommodated at these SLTB depots, as per the Minister of Tourism’s request, while school vans and school buses, as well as office transport vehicles, will be able to obtain Diesel from the same source.
“These actions are being taken to return public transportation, tourist, and school student transportation to normalcy. The Government is focused on a programme that will supply fuel on weekdays based on the last digit of a vehicle’s licence plate. Despite the fuel crisis, the appropriate amount of petrol for public transportation will be given, including 150 MT per day for the Railways Department and 600 MT per day for SLTB and private buses. In this regard, whatever the SLTB’s fuel requirements are, they will be met and implemented as a policy decision,” he stated.
In response to the release of fuel to the market, the Minister stated that a scheme has been proposed in which the last number on each vehicle’s number plate will be used to reserve a weekday for fuel purchase.
As a result, the Ministry hopes to eliminate at least 67 per cent of the present fuel queues and allow every vehicle to acquire fuel, as it is not possible to give fuel to every filling station several times per day or at the same time to all filling stations.
The Minister assured farmers that their needs of kerosene and diesel would be met, but that for the time being, the Government will focus on critical services. In response to the power outages, the Minister stated that he hopes to keep the outages to 2-3 hours in the coming weeks.
Wijesekara told the media that the Central Bank of Sri Lanka had already released the required USD 90 million. He therefore urged the public not to queue up for fuel in the next three-four days, until the fuel shipments arrive.
The Government particularly hopes that they will be able to relieve congestion by releasing more diesel without incident within the next ten days.
By Thameenah Razeek