Public Transport crisis feared in Jaffna peninsula
[TamilNet, Thursday, 13 March 2008, 16:26 GMT]
Sri Lanka Electricity Board (SLEB) which supplies fuel and oil to Jaffna Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) has informed that it may have to suspend supplies to Jaffna SLTB if the arrears of 51 million rupees due is not paid, Koa’ndaavil SLTB head office sources said. Already 40 buses in the three depots of Jaffna SLTB are not functioning due to lack of spare tires, and if SLEB suspends supply the entire bus service may ground to a halt, the sources added.
Though 374 tires have been allotted to Jaffna SLTB they remain in Colombo because related authorities have failed to arrange shipment of the tires to Jaffna due to lack of funds to pay the ship fare, sources said.
The three SLTB depots in Koa’ndaavil, Point Pedro and Kaarianakar have been running at a loss for several months and is unable to pay wages to its employees, Koa’ndaavil SLTB depot officials said.
Since the Sri Lanka Army's (SLA's) suspension of traffic on the key road to Mukamaalai, a high revenue route, and the frequent blocking of the key roads in the peninsula when SLA convoys use them, have greatly reduced returns, they added.
Government Agent (GA) Jaffna has been notified of the problems faced by the SLTB, officials of SLTB said.
SLA closure of A9 route in 2006 precipitated a similar crisis when the GA took the matter to Transport Minister A. H. M. Fowzie who then intervened to make arrangements with the SLEB to continue supply fuel and oil to Jaffna SLTB on loan basis.
Most of the bus services to rural areas in the peninsula have been stopped due tire shortage, and the suspension of fuel supply will result in the complete stalling of public transport service in the peninsula, transportation officials in Jaffna warned.