Instructions awaited to run inter-provincial bus services Relief package for private bus operators soon

Plans are under way to give another concessionary package soon for private bus operators for tyres, batteries, lubricants and insurance, said State Minister of Vehicle Regulation, Bus Transport Services and Train Compartments and Motor Car Industry, Dilum Amunugama.

“We had a discussion with certain tyre suppliers, battery dealers and even insurance companies on July 6, as to what kind of concessions could be granted for private bus operators. I hope we will have a positive feedback this week, the State Minister told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

He said at present private bus operators are in a very bad situation. “Because we were in a total lockdown for almost two months and we are still on a provincial lockdown. Therefore, private bus operators are facing problems as they have been unable to operate for almost three months.”

State Minister Amunugama said they are also awaiting instructions of the Covid-19 Committee to run inter-provincial bus services. He said most probably, they would get clearance on Wednesday. This would sort out the problems faced by the private buses to a certain extent.

He said at present, there are about 3,800 buses which operate between provinces and another 17,000 within the provinces.

Buses operating within the provinces are back on the roads to a certain extent but the inter-provincial services have not been granted permission to operate as yet.

“We plan to discuss with the Covid-19 Committee to operate inter-provincial bus services starting this week. The same health guidelines will apply for these buses and they can carry passengers only up to their seating capacity. Amunugama said that he is grateful to private bus operators as they didn’t request for a bus fare hike at this juncture. “We discussed and explained to them that we are not in a position to put the entire burden of the recent fuel price hike on the passengers. They realised that and didn’t make a big fuss about it. In return, we also told them that though bus fares will not be increased, we will decrease their expenditure on items such as spare parts, batteries, lubricants and insurance as well.” “Private bus operators have cooperated so far due to the assurance given by us. That is why we are trying to get some sort of concessionary package for them as soon as possible. However, I must thank the private bus operators as they are not acting like the present Opposition and they are cooperating and working with the people.”

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