News

Private bus owners : Strike temporarily called off 

By Skandha Gunasekara 

The all-out strike by private buses has been called off due to the resurgence of the coronavirus, The Morning learnt. 

Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association President Gemunu Wijeratne told The Morning that a private bus strike would endanger the masses. 

“If all the private buses stop operating then commuters will be forced into the limited number of CTB (Ceylon Transport Board) buses and trains. This will increase the chance of the virus spreading. So we have decided to call off the strike because of the re-emergence of the Covid-19 virus,” he noted.

However, he said that they would operate with a 50% seat capacity and an increased fare rate.

“We will only allow half the seats to be filled in each bus to maintain social distancing measures. But we will be increasing the ticket price by one-and-a-half times the usual amount.”

In addition, he said the union would discuss their demands of a Rs. 10 per kilometre fuel subsidy with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. 

“We will meet with the President and hash out our demands. In addition to the fuel subsidy, we also demanded that the monthly toll to provincial councils, known as the ‘log sheet’, be scrapped till December,” Wijeratne said. 

Last week, the private bus unions had decided to carry out an islandwide strike from today (13) onwards if their demands were not met.