Bus fare revision meeting ends in stalemate

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Private bus trade unions met with the Transport Minister yesterday (28) to discuss fare revisions following the recent fuel hike which ended without a conclusion. Ceylon Today learns that the unions also failed to find common ground with regard to the matter.

However, a proposal has been submitted to the Ministry to increase fares by 30 per cent and minimum fare to be increased to Rs 40 from Rs 32 with effect from 1 July, Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) sources confirmed.

When inquired, a National Transport Commission official said that the decision regarding price revision is yet to be taken since the Transport Ministry’s approval is pending.

Meanwhile, Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) Chairman Gemunu Wijeratne noted that he proposed that the public transport sector be given priority for diesel since there are no transportation services for the public to at least to get to a hospital. He noted that he is not satisfied with the sudden price revision proposal submitted at the meeting since the LPBOA’s priority is to address the issue of diesel distributions.

“The Transport Minister and relevant officials walked out of the meeting after a problematic situation occurred during the discussion. Some trade unions focused on increasing the bus fare heartlessly. The public are already burdened by sudden price hikes and shortages in goods; this adds fuel to the fire,” he stated.

Wijeratne noted that they will only support the annual bus fare revision if private bus services are given priority for diesel distribution, so that at least 10 per cent of busses can function.

He added there only adequate fuel to function the bus operations for another two days.

All Ceylon Private Bus Owners’ Association Secretary Anjana Priyanjith, who also shared the same concern about diesel distribution, noted that they agree with the 30 per cent price revision proposed in the meeting.

By Nabiya Vaffoor