An Echelon Media Company
Saturday October 1st, 2022

Sri Lanka’s private bus owners want priority fuel to resume operations

CROWDED: An overloaded bus in a suburb of Colombo, leaning sideways with passengers clinging to foot boards.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s private buses, which had to reduce operations due to the ongoing fuel crisis can recommence service if they are given priority in filling stations, Sri Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association President said.

Gemunu Wijeratne addressed the media on Sunday 17 July, saying that the fuel crisis left only 10 to 15 percent buses in operation in the past few weeks.

“Sometimes it was less than 5 percent. There were only around 1000 to 3000 buses in operation in the last few weeks.”

Wijeratne said that drivers would wait three days queuing up for only 40 liters of diesel, which was not practical.

“If we can be given priority when obtaining fuel from CEYPETCO stations, 50 percent of the buses can be in operation from next week.”

Private buses have been obtaining fuel from Sri Lanka Transport Board Depots, but that has not been sufficient to run properly, Wijeratne stated. CEYPETCO filling stations did not have fuel for a period of time.

Power and Energy Minster Kanchana Wijesekara recently announced a fuel token system, but Wijeratne was of the opinion that, “Apps are not practical for bus drivers.”

“Maybe the system will work, but we are asking for priority when obtaining fuel. We cannot wait for days in queues, that is not practical, and it is unfair for the consumers.

“Because of the fuel crisis, we have to strengthen the public transport system,” he said.

Sri Lankans have had to change their travelling patterns due to the fuel scarcity and increasing costs, with many switching to bicycles or taking public transport. However the worsening situation has left many stranded, and people have had to curtail their travelling, as buses and taxis are no longer easily found.

The few buses on the road are packed to the brim, and consumers are paying increased fares without even a seat to sit on.

Some have resorted to climbing on the roofs of the buses, Wijeratne said, and warned people against engaging in such dangerous activities.

However, not all people have the luxury of working from home, meaning Sri Lankans have to endure extremely uncomfortable commutes in order to earn a living in the midst of the country’s worst-ever economic crisis that has left many destitute, and the country virtually bankrupt. (Colombo/Jul17/2022)

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