Lack of railway policemen sees rise in ticket-dodgers
By Buddhika Samaraweera
As there is a shortage of about 300 railway policemen to check if passengers have purchased tickets, the Sri Lanka Railway Station Masters’ Union (SLRSMU) said that the number of passengers who are travelling by train without tickets has gone up at present.
Speaking to The Morning, SLRSMU General Secretary Kasun Chamara said that according to the prescribed cadre, there should be 471 policemen attached to the Railways Department. However, he said that there are only 129 Policemen, and that 70 out of them have been deployed for various other duties by the Railways Department.
“As there is a huge shortage of employees, most of the railway station staff cannot check if passengers have purchased tickets. We have observed a considerable increase in the number of passengers using trains without purchasing tickets during the past few months. The department, which is already a loss-making institution, is making further losses, as there are not enough staff members to check tickets.” he said.
Amidst this shortage of employees, Chamara said that the staff of the Slave Island Railway Station have been checking if the passengers disembarking from trains there had purchased tickets since 8 September. He said that within the period from 8 to 30 September, a total of 129 passengers who have travelled without tickets have been fined, through which a sum of Rs. 402,200 has been earned by the Department.
“There are two exits at the Slave Island Railway Station. A sum of Rs. 402,200 has been earned by checking the passengers at only one exit. If those using the other exit had been checked, we would have apprehended more passengers who travelled without a ticket. There are many railway stations where there are no policemen to check tickets. Even at the Slave Island Railway Station, there should be 18 employees in the junior staff, but there are only six.” he added.
Speaking to The Morning on an earlier occasion, Chamara said that although there should be 19,382 employees in the Railways Department, there are currently around 10,500 employees. The employee vacancy strongly affects some sub-departments of the department, and there is a serious problem whether the services to be provided through some sub-departments are provided properly, he said, and added that they have continuously informed the relevant authorities that there are vacancies of nearly 3,000 employees in the sub-department of transport, which deals directly with the railway passengers, but no responsible officials have intervened.