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“SLTB can be made profitable within this year”

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If everyone works together and makes the necessary reforms, the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) can be made profitable within this year, Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana said.

The Minister stated this during a meeting with trade union representatives of the SLTB recently.

Also, during the meeting held at the Ministry premises, officials and trade union representatives agreed to implement several measures for the development of the SLTB that could not be done for seven years.

Speaking further the Minister said, “I appointed a former secretary of a ministry, an engineer who is not a politician, as the chairman. When he assumed duties, there were 39 depots that could not pay salaries for workers. Now the number of depots that cannot pay salaries has reduced to nine.”

“The main problem of the SLTB is that the institution does not get the total revenue received from passengers on a daily basis.Drivers and conductors gives part of the income to the SLTB and take the rest home. This is been done in an organized manner. The SLTB is losing about Rs. 10 million daily due to such malpractice. As a solution to that, efforts are being made to introduce the e-ticketing system. With the introduction of the electronic ticket system, every depot of the SLTB will become profitable. Due to the newly called tyre tender, the institution was able to save Rs. 9,000 rupees per tyre. By doing so, we were able to save Rs. 85 million within four months,” the Minister said.

“We think that the SLTB can make a profit of around Rs.7,000 million a year. Part of it can be distributed to the employees and a good insurance system can be introduced for all. There is a good group of employees working very hard in the SLTB,” he said.

“The income has increased by eight percent in recent times. Also, the cost incurred has been reduced. About 800 buses were taken out of service before the new chairman was appointed. Money was given to repair them.So far, about 175 buses have been repaired and the rest will be repaired and will be ready for operations by October 31,” the Minister said.

“Five hundred new buses were bought under the Indian Credit Line. Arrangements are being made to buy 1,000 new buses for long-distance trips for profitable depots,” he said.

“It has been agreed internationally that by 2030 public transport should be electric based and not fossil fuel based. The 6,000 buses owned by the SLTB must be electric buses one day in the future,” the Minister said.

The Minister further said the opportunity has been given to investors to bring in 200 electric buses for passenger transportation in the Western Province.

SLTB Chairman Lal Alwis and union representatives attended.

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