June 02, Colombo: The Transport Services Management Ministry today (02) decided to operate the public transport services including trains and buses in the country normally with effect from Monday (June 08) considering the public behavior over the next few days as well as the advice given by the Health Units on COVID-19 Epidemic.
A discussion was held at the Ministry of Transport Services Management headed by subject Mahinda Amaraweera this morning. The Chairman of the National Transport Commission (NTC), the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) Chairman and the board of directors participated in this discussion.
Operating the public transport services including trains and buses normally from next Monday (08) according to the decisions taken at the meeting, and issues and challenges emerging during the normal operation were discussed at the meeting today.
“Although there are around 5300 SLTB buses and 23000 private buses, this is not sufficient for passenger transport. “This is why passengers are forced to be standing. COVID-19 has made it mandatory to transport only passengers for available seats. As a result there are many problems with public transport,” Minister Amaraweera pointed out.
Accordingly, steps will be taken to operate the existing private and SLTB buses to maximum capacity. In addition, all school buses, buses used for pilgrimage and leisure trips, as well as all buses on the registration waiting list will be temporarily used for passenger transport.
The temporary registration of the buses will commence tomorrow (03) and the registration will be made by the National Transport Commission or the Sri Lanka Transport Board.
About 147,000 passengers take the train per day and the trains have only 25,000 seats. Therefore, Minister Amaraweera urged the public to limit their travel as much as possible when using public transport, since the number of passengers on the train is limited to the number of seats.
However, the Minister emphasized that restrictions on transport services will be relaxed according to the directives given by the Health authorities and considering the behavior of the public in the coming days.
As the COVID-19 epidemic has not subsided in the country yet, the Minister advised all Transport sector institutions to follow the instructions provided by the Health Sector on a regular basis.
The Minister further stated that the assistance of the security forces will be sought in providing transport facilities.
Secretary to the Ministry Gamini Seneviratne was also present at the meeting.
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