All who have fulfilled their professional responsibilities without resorting to strikes and rallies should be honoured – Minister Dr. Gunawardhana
Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana participated in a special observation tour of the Railway Chief Mechanical Engineer’s office and work site at Ratmalana.
The minister who observed the tasks of each division in the premises of the organization, engaged in cordial conversation with the staff as well. The minister expressing his views at the media briefing, after his observation tour, had the following to say; “The current number of train engines is not enough to provide an efficient service to a large number of passengers.
Although about 100 trains are required, there are only seventy now. There is a difficulty in procuring foreign loans to get new train engines, rail tracks, and spare parts. It is not possible to buy new locomotives and carriages without obtaining a foreign loan. Expedited solutions should be provided for several problems that exist in the Ratmalana Railway Mechanical Workshop. About 100 or 200 young men who have gone through training at the German Railway Technology Institute should be recruited in order to repair old train engines as well as equipment to maintain the organization in a productive manner. Spare parts including components which could not be obtained due to the foreign exchange crisis should be provided.
Accordingly, it has been planned to implement a programme to put twenty new locomotives into operation under an expedited programme of about six months with the contribution of everyone
and get the approval of the cabinet and the government.
About two to three thousand workers are engaged in work within this factory. They are like the heart of the train and they have never joined in any strikes. I thank them for fulfilling their professional responsibility on behalf of the country for not getting caught to strikes and rallies, and not working according to political agendas.
Based on foreign loans we receive, we can make all decisions on maintaining institutions in a productive manner. No government in Sri Lanka, receives an income adequate to maintain it daily. Every government had a deficit in the current account. Under a deficit budget, it is not possible to run the country without foreign loan assistance. That is why it is not possible to transform the railway parts in this place that are several years old, into a condition where they can be used again, without money.
Everyone in the country should act according to the law. Accordingly, after making it an essential service for the benefit of the general public, everyone should obey that law.
Arrangements are being made to appoint a committee of experts to give recommendations regarding future affairs of the railway department, based on my request. I expect to submit the relevant cabinet paper on behalf of that, very soon. Once we receive the recommendations of that committee, we will make arrangements to make required decisions on what type of changes should be brought about.
The opinion that railways should be privatized has been widely planted among the people. The people and railway workers have the possibility of submitting their ideas and suggestions to this committee. Accordingly, we will arrive at a common decision which will benefit the future of our country.”
General Manager Railways W. D. S. Gunasinghe, Chief Mechanical Engineer K. D. Hewavitharana and a group of officials of the department were present on this occasion.