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SL’s Transport Crisis as 52% of SLTB Buses Are Outdated and Railway Service Is in Critical Condition

May 29, Colombo (LNW): Cabinet Spokesman and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana revealed that 52 percent of the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) buses are outdated and the institutions have deteriorated to the point where they can no longer secure credit facilities to purchase new buses. He shared this information at a press conference held yesterday at the Government Information Department to discuss the outcomes of the recent Cabinet meeting.

The Minister noted that 500 new buses have been acquired through the Indian loan scheme.

Additionally, Dr. Gunawardhana highlighted the dire state of the country’s railway service, emphasizing that rail tracks should be replaced every five years to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. He pointed out that funding for railway infrastructure has historically depended on foreign loans, with recent acquisitions, including 10,000 tracks, funded by the Asian Development Bank. The Northern Railway is currently undergoing repairs under the Indian loan scheme.

The government is negotiating with India to obtain 20 locomotives as a concession. However, until the debt restructuring process is complete, Sri Lanka will struggle to secure loans for purchasing locomotives.

Dr. Gunawardhana expressed gratitude to the railway engineers and staff for maintaining the service, despite the age of the equipment, some of which is 50 to 60 years old. He reiterated the challenge of replacing outdated buses and trains due to financial constraints but assured that efforts are underway to gain international cooperation and resume stalled projects once the debt restructuring is finalized.

“Although our economy is small, we are committed to fulfilling the necessary requirements for international collaboration. Once debt restructuring agreements are in place, we will be able to restart the stalled projects,” he concluded.

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