Transport restrictions hit Batticaloa

[TamilNet, Friday, 13 March 1998, 23:59 GMT]
A shortage of necessary consumer items - especially petrol and cooking gas - has affected the Batticaloa consumers following the ban imposed on Wednesday by the Sri Lankan Government on the movement of all vehicles from Batticaloa to other parts of the island, said sources in Batticaloa.

Traders, in fear that the shortages might continue, have resorted to hoarding consumer items, said sources.

Price of food has increased between 10% - 25% and the vegetables for sale in the Batticaloa market are enough for only a day. There is however a glut in the stock of fish in the market, as supplies from the Batticaloa District cannot be transported to other parts of the island.

Over 200 lorries and 100 buses are awaiting clearance at the Batticaloa border to proceed to Colombo.

Meanwhile, the suspension of transport services has created chaos in the Ampara District. The Ampara Peoplised Transport Board has lost over 100,000 rupees (1640 US$) in one day. The Batticaloa, Kalmunai, Kattankudy, Valaichenai Kaluwanchikudy and Akkaraipattu Peoplised Deports have suffered losses due to the suspension of transport services.

Buses, lorries and private vehicles proceeding out of the Ampara District were permitted to go up to Siyambalanduwa, Hasalaka and Mullegama before being ordered to turn back.

Muslim pilgrims going on Haj from Ampara District and those accompanying them were rendered helpless by the regulations.

The pilgrims, who are due to leave to Saudi Arabia on Sunday, went to police stations trying to arrange special transport out of the Ampara District.

The pilgrims and representatives of Muslim organisations have brought this matter to the notice of the Minister of Ports, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction MHM Ashraff who is MP for the Ampara (Digamadulla) District, Transport and Highways Minister A H M Fowzie and Members of Parliament U.L.M Mohideen and A.H.M Azwer.

Due to transport problems the Manager of the Eastern Bus Company S. L. U. Lebbe ordered the Regional Transport Board to strengthen services from Kalmunai to Siymabalanduwa. Those arriving in Siyambalanduwa from areas outside the Ampara District also have to switch buses at Siyambalanduwa and board the RTB buses to reach Kalmunai.

Meanwhile, there were sudden surges in prices of certain consumer necessities in Kalmunai and Akkaraipattu and there was a shortage of other items.

Difficulties in transporting fish directly to Colombo from Kalmunai, has affected 100,000 fisher families of the Kalmunai region, said sources.

The inability to sell their catch at competitive prices has created a glut in the fish supplies Kalmunai.


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