Welgama goes ahead with plan to import 3,000 buses
Private bus operators threaten to strikeSeptember 19, 2012, 9:27 pm
By Don Asoka Wijewardena
Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Federation (LPBOF) General Secretary Anjana Priyanjith yesterday warned the government against importing even a single bus from China as planned.
He claimed that the LPBOF had more than 3,000 surplus buses which had not been operated for a long time.
Transport Minister Kumara Welgama was on the verge of importing 3,000 buses from China and if he goes ahead with his plan, the LPBOF would launch a country-wide strike of all the private buses, Priyanjith said.
Minister Welgama early this week announced his intention to import 3.000 Chinese made buses shortly.
Priyanjith said that the private bus industry had fallen from the frying pan into the fire due to high cost of spare parts, fuel and emoluments of the employees. The annual bus fare revision was not done this year. Time-keepers employed by the respective Road Passenger Transport Authorities were extorting money from the private buses to make matters worse for private bus operators.
The LPBOF had decided to object to the import of such buses, because more than 3,000 buses belonging to the private bus owners were idling. "We do not want the the government to import any Chinese buses. The transport policy of the government is stupid. The private bus industry has encountered many problems. If the Minister imports the buses, we will launch a strike," Priyanjith stressed.
Transport Minister Kumara Welgama when contacted said that the only person who could stop his development programmes, either in the SLTB or in the SLR, was President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The private bus operators were under the impression that when the SLTB fleet was streamlined, it would be disadvantageous to them. The so-called trade unions had been sabotaging all the development goals that the successive governments had planned to implement.
The Minister said that he had decided to buy from China, because India had become the monopoly supplier of buses to the country. As Transport Minister he had been vested power to improve the transport service in the country, but he was surrounded by many groups who were out to sabotage the expected goals. "President Rajapaksa has placed confidence in me to develop the SLTB and the SLR. I am not worried about the rhetoric of the so-called trade union leaders. If President Rajapaksa asked me to stop the import of 3,000 buses from China I will do it, but I am not ready to listen to others who shed crocodile tears. I am thick-skinned," Minister Welgama said.
What’s Sri Lanka’s best overseas Test win?
Last Updated Jun 17 2013 | 07:01 pm