80 imported buses lying idle at Panagoda yard

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Despite receiving Cabinet approval, 80 imported buses designed to transport schoolchildren have been parked at a Homagama Panagoda vehicle yard for the past seven years without being used.

Minister of Transport, Bandula Gunawardena said during an inspection of Ashok Leyland’s vehicle yard in Homagama, that the company imported eighty buses specially designed to transport school students seven years ago with the collaboration of the Government.

He said due to a lack of approval from the Procurement Committee, these buses are still parked at the company’s Panagoda factory vehicle yard. Gunawardena has obtained Cabinet approval to operate these buses, imported at a high cost.

The company has agreed to provide these buses at half the current market value by giving the buses at the foreign exchange rate at the time the buses were imported to Sri Lanka.

“In addition, the company had expressed its willingness to obtain the money over four years while earning money by operating buses. Despite this favourable decision, the technical committee for the purchase of buses delayed the approval of the purchase of these buses for many reasons. The Ashok Leyland Company has assumed complete responsibility for the safety and maintenance of buses, ensuring the safety of all schoolchildren,” he said.

Minister Gunawardena said, Cabinet and the President will be informed about these matters, and that based on the company’s certificates, these buses will be given to schools by the Expressway Transport Company (pvt) Ltd as a pilot project and used for school service. The Minister said arrangements will be made to put these buses, which have been sitting idle for seven years, causing a huge loss to the country, back into service for the benefit of students.

BY Thameenah Razeek