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School vans demand solution to fuel issues 

10 months ago

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BY Dinitha Rathnayake  The All Ceylon School Children Transport Association has called for the establishment of a proper system for issuing fuel and urged the prioritisation of their service. Speaking to The Morning, the association’s Secretary Lalith Chandrasiri said that district secretaries of certain areas have issued a list with a card valid for one month so that the school vans are provided fuel for each week by marking the said card. “This step was taken by government officials in Nuwara Eliya, Bandarawela, and Ruwanwella where it is convenient for the school vans as otherwise they have to spend hours keeping students inside.” He also said that certain police officers are also being really helpful when they call and ask the vans to come forward in the queues. However, he added that these are not permanent solutions. According to Chandrasiri, prices of spare parts have also increased by 50%. “Earlier, we bought a tyre for Rs. 27,000 and now the same tyre is around Rs. 50,000. How can we survive like this? Some parents are unable to pay the fees due to the economic crisis.” Meanwhile, a protest was held by the association in Colombo on Wednesday (30 March) over several demands including the fuel supply. The protestors said that despite an assurance from the Finance Ministry to provide relief to their pending lease payments and interest payments that have piled up, no action has been taken to date. Chandrasiri said that about 48,000 school van and school bus owners and drivers are inconvenienced by the shortage of fuel. “We requested the Government to instruct the filling stations to give priority to those who have the association’s membership card. We have to be on time to drop and pick up children and cannot wait in queues for hours,” he said, adding that the authorities have failed to give a solution to this issue. “We will be compelled to refrain from transporting schoolchildren, due to both lease-related issues and the current fuel shortage,” he said.

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