Why oh why, are we taken on this hazardous ride?
Ministers of Transport come and go but the people’s problems remain the same. We are thankful to the Ministers for their efforts to control the bus fares, but nevertheless over the years they have doubled or trebled.
Most commuters are not only worried about bus fares but also about safety. At times a commuter is made to feel as if he is on a race track and at times he feels he is travelling on a tortoise. Then there are quarrels between these competing bus crews to earn a few bucks more.
At times the bus drivers go slow as a snail resting for minutes at every major halt and parking the bus with its front towards the pavement and the back to the middle of the road to avoid others overtaking them.
Isn’t there a maximum number of passengers each bus is expected to carry? The tragedy at Kebithigollewa will highlight the number of passengers there were in the bus. Aren’t there any authorities to check on these things or have they got to turn a blind eye because if these things are checked the bus drivers go on strike.
The private buses run on their routes only when they can make the maximum profit which is understandable because their motive is to make profits not just to render a service. We have to depend on them for our transport whatever the hardship, as there is no alternative. Why don’t SLTB buses run on certain routes? Why are there so many AC buses on certain routes and hardly any on other routes? However on almost all the routes the first turn and the last turn are taken by the SLTB. No private buses ply on the routes after the peak hours. Then the only transport available is the SLTB buses. It is said that the late turns and early morning hour turns are only given to SLTB these times you run at a loss which no private entrepreneur would want.
Drivers and conductors who do all the hard work should be paid higher salaries or given incentives, if the SLTB is to become a profitable organization.
Fewer people will travel in their own vehicles if the transport system is better. Just importing buses is not going to solve the problem — there should be efficient depot managers. Some of the buses that have been imported are still lying at the depots. Those that are running have become filthy as they are never cleaned.
Transport is one of the basic needs of the people. If it is properly handled it will not only serve the people better but also save billions of valuable foreign exchange.