Vauniya Bus Stand that had been constructed by National Transport Commission with a cost of Rs. 195 million was declared opened by Hon. Nimal Siripala De silva - Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation on 17.01.2017.
The Minister expressed on the occasion that Vauniya Bus Stand that geographically links North and South is a symbol of national reconciliation.
This occasion was graced by a number of Ministers, Members of Parliament and government officers including Hon. Ashok Abesinghe – Deputy Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation and Mr. Nihal Somaweera – Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation.
Bandaranaike International Airport will be closed for airport operations for eight hours daily from 0830hrs to 1630hrs commencing from 06th January 2017 to 05th April 2017.
The purpose of the closure is to overlay the runway in order to improve surface conditions and friction levels of the runway. This would be the first time such an overlay project is to be carried out since the commissioning of the runway in 1986.
The closure period was decided in consultation with the airport users with special emphasis on weather trends and civil engineering needs. The daily closure times during the aforementioned period have been decided taking into consideration periods with least congestion in order to minimize any adverse impact on both airlines and airport users. Currently there are around 175 aircraft movements per day and most of the commercial flights have been rescheduled for operations within the revised operational hours (i.e. 1630hrs – 0830hrs)
Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd. as the airport operator has taken all possible measures to minimize the impact of the closure on airport users. Passengers are kindly requested to be at the airport five (05) hours prior to departure time as the airline check in counter closure one (01) hour prior to schedule departure time will be strictly adhered to.
Accompanying Visitors of passengers are discouraged or requested to keep such visitors to the minimum. Further the departure public concourse will be closed for visitors daily from 0200hrs to 0700hrs in the morning and 1400hrs to 1900hrs in the afternoon during the aforementioned period.
Respective airlines will update their passengers on any revision to their flight schedules. Passengers who have already booked their tickets on any of the flights which were scheduled to operate during the above mentioned closure times are advised to contact their travel agent/s and or the nearest airline ticketing office for further details on revised times and/ or alternate routings.
All airport users are requested to arrive at the airport early to avoid any inconvenience due to unforeseen traffic congestions. A special traffic plan will be implemented by Sri Lanka Police within and around the airport during the aforementioned period. All vehicles must be parked at the designated vehicle parking areas and drivers are strictly advised to refrain from parking in any other areas which would result in traffic congestion.
Sri Lankan passengers who are departing for foreign employment are kindly requested to obtain the registration from the Head office of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) or from island-wide SLBFE branches prior to arriving at the airport to airport to avoid inconvenience. This is a mandatory requirement for such passengers travelling overseas after 01st November 2016 as only the scrutinizing of documents will be carried out at the airport SLBFE office.
Hon. Nimal Siripala De Silva - Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, taking part in inauguration ceremony of the resurfacing activities expressed that ‘ it is a pleasure to me to commence the development work of the runway during my tenure. International standards of our airport should have gone down, had the airport remained in its current status. Therefore, it was decided to expedite the development work concerned. Therefore, I would like to say that the measures will be taken to complete reconstruction activities within three months. Steps have also taken to commence the construction work of the second terminal hall by this April. And also, discussions have been held with international airlines so as to prepare a special programme to attract aircrafts to Mattala Airport. A second international airport is a must for Sri Lanka to comply with international aviation standards. Mattala Airport will be of good use for us in the future. We will be able to serve 20 million passengers with sophisticated facilities with the construction of the proposed terminal. I firmly believe that this will help promote tourism in Sri Lanka. The Minister also said that a lot of development projects will be launched by the National Government in the field of aviation in the future.
The inauguration ceremony of resurfacing of BIA was held under the patronage of Hon.Nimal Siripala De Silva - - Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation and Hon. Ashok Abesinghe –Deputy Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation. This occasion was graced by a number of officers including Mr. Nihal Somaweera – Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, Mr. Saman Ediriweera – Chairman of AASL and a group of representatives of Chinese Contract Company.
Compensation for 23 drivers and conductors who operated the buses and the passengers who were attacked by bandits on the 1stDecember 2016, during the private bus strike, was held at SLTB head office, Narahenpita on 20th December 2016 the afternoon under the patronage of Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Hon. Nimal Siripala De Silva.
Among those victims, there are 04 passengers including Mr. Sumanarathna, who resides at Nawalapitiya and 18 bus drivers and a conductor who were engaged in service. Accordingly, a compensation of Rs. 50,000/= was awarded to the Army Officer and arrangements were made to award Rs.25, 000/= and Rs. 20,000/= for each others who were attacked.
Minister Nimal Siirpala De Silva, participated for this occasion, stated that this is an occasion to appreciate the service rendered by the SLTB employees by compensating by the SLTB and also to appreciate the passengers who used SLTB service. It is a responsibility and a duty of the SLTB as a public transport service. It would be the responsibility of SLTB as the employer to protect its’ employees if any accident was occurred.
Minister further stated that SLTB is bound to ensure protection of SLTB bus commuters according to the competition between SLTB and private buses. That responsibility has also been accomplished by today.
Minister also said that this compensation is not enough and this compensation is given symbolically. Those people should be given Rs. 05 or 06 lakhs if SLTB has a financial viability.
However, I am proud as the Minister in charge of SLTB is leading to such good task as it is a financially weak entity.
I immediately decided that the employees who discharged duties on the day of strike be awarded with incentives. And also, measures should be taken to cover SLTB employees. The Minister who expressed views on bus strike said that ‘a lot of facts are disclosed by this incident. We have to be ashamed as Sri Lankans. That is because we are ashamed that a murderous campaign was launched in line with the private sector bus strike. Everyone has a right to strike. Though, no one is permitted by the prevailing law in Sri Lanka to assault and intermediate employees who are engaged in duties or people who are peacefully involved in journeys. Therefore, I have instructed the legal division of the SLTB to inquire into the cases pending in courts in relation to these incidents by appearing SLTB legal officers in person.
The Minister further expressed that this private bus strike showed the importance of maintaining government institutes such as SLTB. In the absence of an institution in the caliber of SLTB, the whole population would have been in trouble. Therefore, the Treasury and the Government got a good opportunity of rendering a social service going beyond the economic value of institutes such as SLTB. Politicians also got that chance. I am glad about that. I see private bus strike as a situation where the need of government run SLTB and Railway service came into light.
The Deputy Minister Asok Abesinghe expressed views on the occasion that ‘I see SLTB as an institution that renders a yeomen service in the presence of loads of shortcomings. Therefore, the government has no need whatsoever to privatize the SLTB. Various trade unions are spreading false opinions. Today, the two major parties are attempting to render a good transport service to the people of Sri Lanka in collaboration with each other. Today, there are about 21000 private buses that are driven in roads throughout of the country. But, only 5500 of SLTB buses are in operation. But, SLTB has managed to render a better service by successfully taking on the private sector. Therefore, people in Sri Lanka thoroughly believe in SLTB at present. SLTB has a huge responsibility to maintain such trust. The government is there to provide necessary human and physical resources to fulfill that goal.
This occasion was graced by a number of officials including Mr. Ramal Siriwardene – Chairman of SLTB and trade union leaders.
The Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation emphasize that a electric railway service will be commence by 2020 as yet another step forward by the Sri Lanka Railways.
This was disclosed at a special technical meeting held 2016.12.06 on the commencement of the electric railway project held at Colombo Taj Samudra with the participation of relevant stakeholders.
The Asian Development Bank has agreed to grant a concessional loan for the project under its financial aid programme.
The project has been planned to cater the needs of railway passengers by 2035.
Electric railway services are expected to be commenced from Weyangoda to Panadura, Weyangoda to Polgahawela, Ragama to Negambo and Maradana to Homagama in the kelani valley railway line under the first phase of the project.
Modernization of railway lines to generate a speed of 100km per hour, installment of modern signaling systems, automated railway safety brake systems and construction of 04 railway stations come under the project plan.
It is emphasized that the construction of 03 railway tracks from Colombo Fort to Panadura, o4 tracks from Maradana to Ragama and two tracks from Maradana to Homagama under the project will help reduce railway traffic.
Project design activities will commence in 2017. Construction work of the project is planned to be commenced by December 2017.
Mr.Palitha Samarasinghe – the Project Director emphasized that a sum of Rs. 625 million will be needed for the entire project.
Hon. Nimal Siripala De Silva – Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation expressed views on the occasion that’ Our railway service is not developed in comparison with other counties irrespective of its lengthy history. The Minister was further of the view that this has been accounted for by the factors such as geographical factors, reduction of speed due to railway crossings, dearth of technicians and engineers and illegal settlements around railway lines.’
The Minister also expressed that due to said reasons the project concerned is a highly expensive and laborious task.
And also, the Minister emphasizes that attention has to be focused on sensitive social issues in project implementation. If displacement of people will be required, alternatives should be considered in that regard. And also, the Minister emphasized that the project should be implemented with minimal damage to the public.
The Passenger transport service by three-wheels that had commenced at the later part of 1980s has continued up to date without a proper monitoring or specific rules and regulations in that regard. The formulation of a national policy that incorporates a system of rules and regulations on three-wheels was started by the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation on 2016.12.19.
A discussion to make Three-wheel Associations aware of the new system of rules and regulations and to get their ideas on the same was held at the Auditorium of the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation at “Sethsiripaya” premises under the patronage of Hon. Nimal Siripala De Silva- Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation.
Nine major themes were discussed on the occasion and Three-wheel Associations also put forward a few suggestions before the Minister. One of their requests was to increase 40kmph speed limit to 50kmph. It was decided at the discussion to make a decision on the speed limit in the future in consultation with the relevant institutions including the Police.
The Minister said that measures will be taken to limit the import of three-wheels as there are already 1.2 million of three-wheels in Sri Lanka. The Minister also said that it has been decided to issue three-wheel driving license for only those who are more than 35 years of age. Three-wheel Association responded these suggestions of the Minister quite positively and, the Minister expressed that the said rules and regulations will be submitted to the Legal Draftsman’s Department, having them been approved by the Parliament.
The Minister also expressed that this national policy was intended to ensure the safety of both the passengers and three-wheel drivers. The Minister also expressed that such rules and regulations will be submitted to the professionals for getting their suggestions before the same is submitted to the parliament in the form of a Bill.
The Minister expressed that the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation is prepared to draft the said system of rules and regulations in collaboration with the Department of Motor Traffic, Sri Lanka Police and Legal Draftsman’s Department and, the Three-wheel Associations have also expressed their willingness to support in this endeavor. The Minister also said that the support of passengers and three-wheel owners is also essential in this regard. The Minister further expressed that this monitoring will lead to a significant progress of three-wheel transport service. The Minister also said that three-wheel drivers and three-wheel owners are faced with a lot of issues and, the Minister of Finance will be informed of in this regard.
The Minister further expressed that the Ministry does not interfere in matters such as price controls as the Ministry has no authority on the same.
Mr. N.Rohana Perera – representative of National Integrated Three-wheel Drivers Association, and Mr. B.K Rudrigo – National Organizer of All Island Three-wheel Owner’s and Driver’s Federation also expressed views on the occasion.
A number of officers including the Mr. Nihal Somaweera – the Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, Mr. Jagath Chandrasiri – Commissioner General of Motor Traffic and a Senior Superintendent of Police of Sri Lanka also graced the occasion.
Railway Guards whose scarcity had been a massive shortage of essential human resource to the Department of Railways for years 08 years, have finally been recruited. Accordingly, 114 of Guards were recruited to the Department of Railways on 09.11.2016.
Human Resources required by the Department of Railways such as Station Masters, Railway Drivers, Railway Guards have already been recruited under the “Human Resource Programme” initiated by Hon. Nimal Siripala De Silva – the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation with the assumption of office by the new government. The Department of Railways emphasizes that the total cadre of guards of the Department is 680 and, there were only 432 of guards. The Department also emphasizes that recruitment of 114 of guards will be a helping hand in delivering a quality service for the public.
The Department further emphasizes that the recruitments of guards have been made by formal written exams and interviews held by the Department of Railways in collaboration with the Department of Examinations.
The Minister said on the occasion that “ I am happy as the Minister in charge of the subject to fulfill a long felt need of the Department of Railways by recruiting 114 of guards”.
The Minister also expressed that “ these recruitments were made by the National Government upholding the principles of good governance such as transparency. There are no relatives or political allies of me among the newly recruited guards. All appointees have shown highest skills in the written examination and as well as in the interview. So, we recruited the most eligible people without any political bias. We did not look at the political party of the appointees. Therefore, they have been able to serve on merit. Engine drivers will also be recruited by following the due process. The Minister also said that “young people of this caliber are required for the development of the Department of Railways and, the personality of such people should be built.
The Minister further expressed on the Department of Railways that “ he prioritized the solution of issues of railway employees upon assumption of duties as the Minister and, measures such as importing locomotives will be taken for the improvement of the railway service. The Minister also said that installment of electric signal systems in railway crossings will be completed during the coming two years.
Hon. Ashok Abesinghe – The Deputy Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation and a number of officers including Mr. Nihal Somaweera – Secretary to the Ministry and Mr. B.A.P Ariaratne – General Manager of Railways also graced the occasion.