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* Government offers many concessions to private bus industry, but fare revision not allowed
Wed, Jun 24, 2020, 12:07 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

June 23, Colombo: Several private bus owners’ associations have complained to the Minister of Transport Management Mahinda Amaraweera that they are not receiving a proper income as a result of the people not using the public transport significantly and operating the services under the Health Ministry restrictions now as well as during the period the curfew was imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a discussion held today (23) with the Minister at the Ministry of Transport Services, the private bus owners requested the Minister to provide them with a bus fare revision as the bus fares have not been revised in two years.

However, Minister Mahinda Amaraweera stated that it is not appropriate for the government to revise the bus fares at this time as all sectors of the country are facing a loss of revenue due to COVID-19.

However, a number of steps have already been taken under the direction of the President to provide relief that the government can provide to protect the private bus industry.

Accordingly, the Secretary to the President has written to the Central Bank regarding granting a concessionary period to pay leasing and insurance installments of private buses.

Accordingly, all insurance companies have already been informed to grant such concessions, the Minister emphasized.

In addition, a concession period has also been issued regarding the insurance and driving licenses of the vehicles, the Minister noted and instructed the Secretary of the Ministry has to submit a letter to the IGP requesting not to arrest or take steps to prosecute private buses during the concession period.

The Minister stressed that the government has taken measures to provide a number of concessions to private buses including orders to apprehend private buses that are currently operating illegally as office services, provide Rs. 300,000 loan and granting a loan at a concessionary rate of 4% to purchase new buses. However, Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that the bus fare would not be revised under the prevailing situation. The Minister said that he was prepared to discuss further concessions if any.

However, the private bus owners have accepted that a revision of bus fares would not be justified and thanked the government for providing relief.


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