Bus unions threaten to continue strike as Minister refuses to submit
By Maheesha Mudugamuwa
Transport Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva says he will not agree to any amendments to the Gazette relating to the revision of traffic fines.
The All Ceylon Private Bus Workers Association (ACPBWA) had launched a strike this week against the new fines imposed for violating road rules. They urged the government to remove the spot fines.
However Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said he will not agree to the demand.
He said the newly introduced spot fines for thirty three motor traffic offences would not be amended.
The ministry issuing a Gazette Extraordinary in January this year, stipulated spot fines ranging from Rs. 500 – Rs.3,000 for 33 selected offences which previously required the institution and carrying on of legal proceeding in a court of law.
Condemning Minister de Silva’s decision, Convener of the All Ceylon Private Bus Workers Association Kumararatne Renuka said that they would continue the strike until their demands were met.
He said spot fines were not fair and therefore the government should abolish the spot fines or should revise them.
Renuka urged President Maithripala Sirisena to solve the matter immediately to avoid any further inconvenience for the public as they would not give up their strike action until a proper policy decision was given.
Minister de Silva earlier said the strike action was unsuccessful as it was not affected the transport services of seven out of nine provinces.
He also said if the strike continues and Sri Lanka Transport Buses (SLTB) was not adequate to meet the demand, the army buses would be deployed.
According to Minister, the strike action was affected the commuters of Kalutara, some parts of Gampaha, 155, 138 and 176 routes in Colombo and long distance buses of Southern Province.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Transport Board Chairman Ramal Siriwardene said the SLTB owes a total of Rs. 24 million from Sri Lanka Railways for transporting railway season ticket passengers during the railway strike last week.
Siriwardene also noted that SLTB had planned to import 500 new buses under the Indian concessionary loan scheme.
In addition the SLTB which earned a profit of Rs. 1,618 million last year is now planning to give Rs. 10,000 bonus for each worker next year. The relevant cabinet paper would be submitted soon by the Minister. At present, there are 30, 492 workers at SLTB.