Sri Lanka’s private bus operators and taxi drivers stopped work yesterday to protest government plans of a 50-fold increase in traffic fines to curb the rising number of road accidents.
About 6,000 privately-owned buses have gone on strike at the government’s proposal to raise the average traffic fine of 500 rupees to 25,000 rupees ($166) from January.
Many taxi drivers and rickshaw drivers are also on strike over the hike.
The strike has forced the state-run transport company to deploy an additional 1,000 vehicles, an official said, while the railways are also operating extra trains.
“The fines are unfair,” said Sarath Kumara, a spokesman for a private bus company, threatening to keep up the strike unless the government relents.
Last week private operators accused the government of letting politicians and other dignitaries get away with traffic violations.
President Maithripala Sirisena promised to personally intervene and initiate legal action against VIP traffic
offenders.
About 3,000 people are killed on Sri Lankan roads annually while another 100,000 people are critically wounded in motor accidents.
Meanwhile, a group of representatives, including president of the Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association also held a discussion with the president yesterday.
It was agreed that before the implementation of the new fine system, the Motor Traffic Act should be amended and the amended Act should be submitted to the attorney general and later it should be presented to the parliament for its
approval.
It was also mentioned that traffic rule violations related to excessive speed and overtaking from the left, could be further discussed in the
future.
Minister of Transport Nimal Siripala De Silva also joined the discussion.