No inter-provincial bus/train services for 2 weeks

  • Only buses, no trains, within provinces

BY Buddhika Samaraweer

Only Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) buses and private buses, and no trains, will be operational for a period of two weeks in terms of the permitted intra-provincial travel, once the country reopens today (1) upon the lifting of the countrywide lockdown status at 4 a.m. The health authorities have advised against the operation of intra-provincial train services for two weeks from today, owing to the high risk of the spread of Covid-19.

Even after the reopening of the country today, all inter-provincial public transport services, including trains, will not be operational for a period of two weeks, said the Vehicle Regulation, Bus Transport Services, and Train Compartments and Motor Car Industry, and Community Police Services State Minister Dilum Amunugama.

Speaking at a media briefing yesterday (30 September), he said that despite the reopening of the country today, public transport services between provinces will not be operational as the Government has decided to maintain the inter-provincial travel restrictions for a period of another two weeks. He also said that due to the high risk of the spread of Covid-19 through the train services, the health authorities have advised not to operate trains for two weeks.

“Inter-provincial public transport services will not be operational as the travel restrictions between provinces will be maintained for another two weeks. Also, the health authorities have advised not to operate trains for two weeks as there is a high risk of Covid-19 spreading due to overcrowding on trains,” he added.

However, he added that SLTB buses and private buses will be operated within the provinces and that steps have been taken to increase the number of buses plying in the Western Province as there are a large number of passengers who are travelling by trains in the area.

When inquired about this, Railways Department General Manager (GM) Dhammika Jayasundara told The Morning that although arrangements have been made to operate trains from 4 October, the Department has been informed by the health authorities and the Transport Ministry not to operate train services for two weeks.

Taking into account the rapid spread of Covid-19 and the increase of the number of Covid-19 infections and deaths in the country, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on 20 August, declared a lockdown status, which has subsequently been extended on multiple occasions, with the latest extension being till 4 a.m. today.

On 29 September, the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of the Covid-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) Head and Army Commander, Gen. Shavendra Silva announced that President Rajapaksa had instructed to lift the islandwide lockdown status which has been in place for six weeks, at 4 a.m. today.

Following the announcement of the plan to lift the lockdown, Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told The Morning that while the inter-provincial travel restrictions will continue beyond today for two weeks, all other restrictions to be declared would be reviewed on a weekly basis from today onwards.