LEOU on one-day strike
By Buddhika Samaraweera and Nabiya Vaffoor
Locomotive Engine Operators’ Union (LEOU) of the Department of Railways is to go on a one day strike from 12:00 a.m. today (23) in protest of a project proposed to completely remove and modernise the railway line from Omanthai to Mahawa.
When inquired about this, Secretary of the LEOU, Indika Dodangoda said the relevant project is to be implemented at a cost of about USD 100 million. However, he said that it would be more appropriate to develop the railway line as a double track instead of removing it completely and carrying out the renovation.
He said that none of the dilapidated bridges would be upgraded, especially through the project being implemented and that there had been no benefit from a similar project carried out previously on the Matara-South Kalutara line.
“At present, plans are underway to upgrade the Mahawa-Polgahawela railway line into a double track. So the Department can use the sum of USD 100 million for that project. The project to modernise railway line from Omanthai to Mahawa is said to conclude in one year, but it will for sure take more than that and it is the passengers who are inconvenienced through this,” he also said.
Dodangoda further said that Transport Minister Gamini Lokuge had been informed of this. Adding most of the officials concerned were opposing this project; he said any action to suspend it has not been taken so far. He also said that certain projects, such as the planned oil transport project, would be hampered through this undertaking. He also said that although he was opposed to this, no action had been taken to suspend the project. “We are currently requesting that a committee be appointed to review this project. If our request is not paid attention, we will have to implement a trade union action again,” he warned.
However, General Secretary of Sri Lanka Station Masters’ Union Kasun Chamara, yesterday (22) told Ceylon Today that station masters will be carrying out their duties as usual.