ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will not increase bus fares following a controversial fuel price hike but will instead provide concessions to private bus owners, State Minister of Bus Transport Services Dilum Amunugama said on June 12.
Speaking to reporters, Amunugama said the government has already increased bus fares to the maximum possible rates the public can afford.
“We will not increase bus fares by even one rupee,” he said.
Sri Lanka’s private bus owners have threatened to limit their services if fares aren’t revised to reflect the fuel price hike. Private Bus Owners Association President Gemunu Wijeratne said on June 12 that bus owners will be severely affected by the diesel price increase.
The state minister said that current fares were increased by 20 per cent in November last year as the government had advised bus owners to limit the number of passengers to the number of seats.
“It was necessary as without that the bus owners wouldn’t have been able to stay in business,” he added.
Amunugama said that even if the bus fares are increased, people are not commuting at the moment due to ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“Not just private buses but the [state-run Sri Lanka Transport Board] bus service also faces a lot of issues due to COVID-19,” he said.
“We will not increase bus fares but will give certain concessions to bus owners, such as fuel reliefs or an allowance instead of a fare hike,” he said, adding that otherwise as existing fares do not reflect increased fuel prices.
The government will discuss the exact nature of the concessions to be given to bus owners in the coming days, he said.
Sri Lanka increased prices of fuel on June 12.
The price Octane 92 petrol has increased by Rs 20 per litre to 157 rupees while Octane 95 has gone up by 23 rupees per litre to 184. Auto diesel has increased by 07 rupees to 111 rupees a litre and Super Diesel by 12 per litre to 144 rupees. Kerosene meanwhile has gone up by 07 rupees per litre to 77. (Colombo/June14/2021)