Develop public transport from scratch – President

Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa advised authorities to revive the uplift of the public transport service, by creating a conducive environment for passengers to travel.

“A small step will lead to a big change. Start cleaning buses and provide seating facilities to passengers from tomorrow,” the President ordered.

Pointing out the small step taken to stop using posters kept cities clean, President Rajapaksa said development in any sector can begin with a small initiative.

The President said so during a meeting to discuss future activities of the Ministry of Transport and the State Ministry of Vehicle Regulation, Bus Transport Services and Carriages and Automotive Industries, held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (18).

The President reiterated the necessity of implementing the Park and Drive system to minimise traffic congestion. Although the Transport Board provides bus transport, it should be transformed into a profitable entity, he said. Both public and private transport sectors should pay attention to the bus service in rural areas.

“Start implementing the combined transport timetable of trains and buses without delay. It is important to identify areas that need swift solutions to develop the transport sector. Long and short-term plans should be formulated for the next five years to develop the sector. It is imperative to review if targets have been achieved,” the President said.

It was decided to repair railway carriages to provide a better service. Transport Minister Gamini Lokuge said Colombo Fort and four other railway stations will be modernised as a pilot project.

The Minister said by increasing the number of trains, more people will be able to travel on the Kelani Valley Railway Line.

State Minister Dilum Amunugama pointed out the importance of exploring the benefits which can be gained by opening up the services of training and maintenance facilities belonging to the Transport Board to the private sector as well.

It was decided to introduce a prepaid card system expeditiously for both public and private sectors for an efficient passenger transport service.

During this meeting, the steps that should be taken to rid the Department of Motor Traffic of corruption and irregularities were discussed in detail.

The President drew attention to the possibility of allowing ordinary buses in good condition to operate on the expressway, so that more passengers could travel, paying low bus fares.

Secretary to the President, P.B. Jayasundera, Finance Secretary S.R. Attygalle, Secretary to the Ministry of Transport N.B. Monty Ranatunga, and Heads of the institutions under the Ministry of Transport and the State Ministry, as well as representatives of private bus associations were present at the discussion.

(Source: Ceylon Today)