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Private buses on strike in Sri Lanka over fuel issue, fare revision

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ECONOMYNEXT – Private bus operators in Sri Lanka are on strike in several parts of the island, limiting their services to 10 percent of the usual capacity, in protest of not receiving adequate fuel.

Chairman of Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) Gemunu Wijeratne confirmed the strike.

Meanwhile, another bus owner’s association is on a separate strike protesting a fare revision, he told EconomyNext on Friday August 05.

“Today around 10 percent or 1,000 to 1,500 buses will operate in areas where they can find fuel. Around 10,000 buses still cannot be added to the service due to lack of fuel,” said Wijeratne.

“In most areas including parts of the southern province, Madirigiriya and some areas in the Kurunegala district, buses are not operating because they cannot find fuel for transport. In the southern province most buses have not been operating for the past two days,” he said.

On Thursday, National Transportation Commission (NTC) Director General Nilan Miranda said fuel was being given to privately owned long distance transport buses at the Makumbura Multimodal Centre continuously and from Friday onwards long distance buses would be issued diesel from the Bastian road bus station in Colombo.

Miranda said long distance buses will be given around 125-150 litres of diesel at a time.

On Friday, at an inspection tour at the Bastian road bus station said Miranda said fuel will be given only for long distance buses scheduled to operate and asked bus owners to continue their service without inconveniencing the public.

For short distance buses, he said, fuel will be supplied at Sri Lanka Transportation Board (SLTB) fuel station, though he acknowledged that this has not been done properly.

“As promised, fuel is issued to long distance buses on Bastian road. That’s fine for long distance buses, but this issue is with the short distance buses,” said Wijeratne.

A discussion was held in this regard with officials of the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and a pledge was made to resolve the issue by next week, he said.

“The CPC chairman said he he will look into the matter and will come up with a system to issue diesel starting next week,” said Wijeratne.

Meanwhile, Sajitha Wijithakumara, the Chairman of Inter Provincial Bus Owners Association, said inter-provincial buses will not operate until the decision to revise bus fares by 11.14 percent is not withdrawn.

“When the diesel price has reduced only by 10 rupees, they have reduced the bus fare by 11.4 percent. We are asking that they reverse the decision immediately and give the maximum amount for buses for transportation and we will continue the service,” Wijithakumara told the privately owned Derana TV on Friday. (Colombo/Aug05/2022)

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