Sri Lanka’s Transport Minister tells President to digitalise Expressways

Bandula Gunawardana

Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Bandula Gunawardana yesterday (November 22) said that a request has been made to digitalise all operations at the exit and entry points of Expressways to ensure an efficient service free from corruption.

He said that the digitalization programme will also comprise many features including a ultra modern security camera system.

The Minister made these remarks after inspecting the operations at the entry and exit points of Athurugiriya and Kottawa Interchanges after several RDA trade unions launched a trade union action.

The cashiers at the Expressway entry and exit points have also joined the trade union action by reporting sick leave.

The Minister said that a request will be made to the President to make this fully automatic as soon as possible and to give permission for full digitization and thereby intervene to prevent disruptive activities that block the government’s revenue.

“A system that includes automatic charging of money from Expressway users has been launched as a pilot project as part of this digitalisation drive”.

The Minister also assured that no employee working in the Road Development Authority will lose their job.

The Minister said this while making a ministerial announcement.

The Minister also said that all employees belonging to the Road Development Authority are away from their duties today after being notified of a strike.

They have taken over the ticket issuing machines etc. without allowing them to be implemented.

We informed them not to do such a thing on Government property. It’s okay to boycott. It is their right. But all the workers have been forced into this strike by taking sick leave.

They have been requested to return the public property. People should be protected. Due to non-issuance of tickets, there is a risk of accidents, if vehicles such as motorcycles are ridden on the highway.

Police and other Security Forces have been deployed to prevent such occurrences. The people involved in this strike should be held responsible for the revenue lost to the government.

We have taken steps to complain about this problematic situation to Athurigiriya and Kottawa Police as there may be some problem.

A system has been introduced for the Police and the Army to issue tickets without machines.

Depriving an income in this way is a serious crime under the economic condition of the country.

Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella said that the children working on the highways have a great fear that there is a plan to sell these highways. They think they will lose their jobs. I ask the Minister whether the highways will be leased or sold.

Responding to him, Minister Gunawardana said that not a single employee of the Road Development Authority will lose their jobs. Even if a firm promise is given about it, if it is not accepted, there is nothing to be done. Highways are sold, not leased.

(Source: Daily News – By Ishara Mudugamuwa)