Resuscitation of CTB is Essential


I was stunned to hear the statement made by the Minister of Transport Kumara Welgama to the media that the President of the Private Bus Owners Association Gemunu Wijeratne is opposed to his move to add more buses to the fleet of the CTB.

I would like to ask what right Gemunu Wijeratne has to interfere with the decisions taken by a Cabinet Minister. Is he thinking that he is the self-appointed wizard of transport services in Sri Lanka?

We all know that transport services in our country tended towards rapid deterioration after the advent of so called private buses. Now it has declined to an intolerable level. Bus service has earned a condemnation from the people for many aspects of which there is no need for a detailed description. In fact, CTB was made a bankrupt organisation within a short period.

In my view, J.R. Jayewardena wanted to destroy this organisation because almost all the bus companies owners before the nationalisation were strong supporters of their party.

It is sad that Mr. Gemunu Wijeratne is not concerned about hardships and inconveniences commuters have to undergo while travelling at the hands of unruly crews. They also endanger the lives of other road users including pedestrians as well owing to undisciplined driving. He is frequently only vociferous on increasing fares.

In its glorious days of past, the Ceylon Transport Board was renowned as one of the efficiently managed transport services in Asia, if not in the world, in spite of some shortcomings and deficiencies. It initially followed the methods and systems of prestigious London Transport in management and operation. In this regard I would like to pay my tribute to Late Mr. V. De Mel and Mr. Anil Munasinghe.

The down fall of CTB began after 1977, with the introduction of a disorganised bus service on our roads by unscrupulous politicians. Most of the buses were owned by individuals whose motive was to make money without iota of consideration for safety, comfort, punctuality and reasonableness in fares. The predicament of passengers inside the buses was worse than those of cattle driven to slaughters.

Furthermore, buses and other valuable properties of the Transport Board were sold for a song to their stooges.

It is happy to note that energetic and upright Minister of Transport, Mr. Kumara Welgama, is making an honest and genuine effort to bring the rail and road transport in Sri Lanka to the highest standard correctly following the principles of "Mahinda Chinthanaya".

To achieve this object it is indispensable to revamp the CTB and sternly control the private bus service by the State.

R. D. P. Gunawardena

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