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Pvt. buses to suspend operations: We have enough buses – Govt.

By Skandha Gunasekara

The Government has an adequate number of buses to fill any shortages in public transport as a result of private buses discontinuing operations, according to State Minister of Vehicle Regulation, Bus Transport Services and Carriages, and Automotive Industries Dilum Amunugama.

“If private buses stop operating in the near future, we will use Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) buses to ensure availability of buses for public transport,” he told The Sunday Morning.

The Minister stated that it was not a strike but a decision by private bus owners to stop operations in order to mitigate losses faced as a result of the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.

He went on to say the Government was in the process of resolving issues faced by private bus owners, such as formulating a bus timetable.

“The new timetable will see a roster where private buses would operate only a few days a week – maybe three days. This way, they will be able to cover their losses.”

He went on to say that the National Transport Commission and the Provincial Transport Commission had stopped collecting funds from private buses for the daily logbook.

In addition, he said that the Government had facilitated a loan scheme for private bus owners through various financial institutions and banks.  

All Island Private Bus Owners’ Association President Gemunu Wijeratne said that private buses would stop operating after the Advance Level (A/L) examinations conclude.

“Even now, only around 20% of the buses are operating and even that is at a loss. After A/Ls are finished, private buses will stop operating altogether.”

He said the main issue was a lack of passengers.  

“There are hardly any commuters due to the fear of Covid-19. Therefore, we are incurring heavy losses daily.”