SLA corrals 3 additional Jaffna buses for military use

[TamilNet, Friday, 21 March 2008, 00:02 GMT]
Sri Lanka Army (SLA) commandeered three new buses from Koandaavil bus depot adding to the scarcity of serviceable buses available for public transport, further burdening the Jaffna SLTB officials reeling from fuel crisis, Jaffna transportation officials said. SLA handed back three buses, irrevocably damaged due to claymore attacks or misuse, officials at the Koandaavil depot said.

SLA had earlier demanded and obtained 10 new buses from the nearly 40 buses delivered several months ago to the Koandaavil depot.

There are only 97 buses in operation in the entire peninsula , attached to the three bus depots located in Koa'ndaavil, Point Pedro and Kaarainakar.Out of the fleet of buses of Koa'ndaavil depot 40 are more than 15 years old and only 29 are reasonably new. Just nine buses of Point Pedro depot and eight from Kaarainakar are new, local officials said.

Unpaid lease payment for the 10 buses SLA uses runs to nearly 7 million rupees, has allegedly been paid by the Defence Ministry to SLTB Colombo head office, and has not been released to the Jaffna administration. 2 million rupees of this arrears was released by efforts taken by Jaffna Government Agent in consultation with the SLA in Palaali, to alleviate shortage of funds to buy fuel to run a skeleton service, transportation officials in Jaffna said.

Already affected by revenue shortage and facing difficulty in paying the salaries of its employees, the woes of the Jaffna SLTB has been further compounded after the closure of A9 Highway and the subsequent ban by SLA on operating long distance services to places including Mukamaalai. Frequent closure of the main roads during movement of military convoy disrupting daily services has discouraged civilians traveling by buses further contributing to the already declining revenue, sources said.

Unless alternative measures are immediately taken by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Jaffna Government Agent (GA) SLTB bus services in Jaffna peninsula may completely ground to a halt in the near future, transportation officials warned.


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