VIDEO: Ministry mum on NTC sponsored ‘ransom mafia’ - Gemunu

VIDEO: Ministry mum on NTC sponsored ‘ransom mafia’ - Gemunu

December 12, 2013   05:10 pm

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association says that the private bus industry in Sri Lanka will completely decline by the year 2020 and that the government is responsible for it.

LPBOA Chairman Gemunu Wijeratne stated that private buses have seen a 20% decline in passengers in the past 5 years (2008-2013) and that if the decline continues in the next five years not only the private bus industry but all bus owners will be “wiped out”.

He charged that the government is completely responsible for this situation and that justice has not been done for bus owners even in this year’s budget.

We did not even see the fund allocated for the transport sector, he told reporters in Colombo today (12).

Wijeratne further said that they have informed the Ministry of Private Transport Services, in writing, regarding certain groups which are collecting “ransom” from private bus operators and that however they continue to remain silent on the matter.

He said that certain individuals at bus stands collected nearly Rs 120 million from bus operators in the past couple of years and that today these “extortionists” are divided into several groups. 

The National Transport Commission has created several bus unions, which are extorting money from bus operator, he said. “I complained to the Defence Secretary regarding this and the Colombo Crimes Division recorded a statement from me,” he said.

Wijeratne stated that a ransom of around Rs 300 is collected everyday especially from Badulla-Colombo buses at the stand and at some places up to Rs 500 is charged by unions recognized by the NTC and formed by bus owners themselves. “That is the first ransom.”

The second ransom is collected by timekeepers at the bus stand, he said.

When the National Transport Commission sponsors the “ransom mafia” other individuals will also do the same, he said. “That is the truth.”

“We don’t know where this money is going but we have informed the security forces regarding the matter,” he said, adding, that if anybody is collecting money at a bus halt or stand that is a ransom.

He claimed that around Rs 400,000 in “ransom” is collected on a daily basis by unions recognized by the National Transport Commission (NTC).

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