Colombo, Dec 3 (NIA) – Sri Lanka’s private bus operators, on Saturday called off a strike which had been launched on Friday midnight, following successful talks held with President Maithripala Sirisena.
The strike had been launched against the government’s decision to impose a Rs.25,000 fine on six forms of traffic violations which include drunk driving, speed driving, overtaking from the left side, driving without a valid license, driving without vehicle insurance and driving irresponsibly at a railway crossing.
The general public had welcomed the move to increase fines, considering the harsh driving methods adopted by a large number of bus drivers in the island nation, which has resulted in fatal accidents and roads being unsafe.
The public said the harsh fines would result in drivers adhering to road rules, which are often violated by these drivers.
“We have seen a rise in accidents these past few months. No one is safe with bus drivers driving like maniacs on the roads. This is one of the best moves made by the government. I hope they do not change their minds,” Nadia De Silva, a manager of a business firm in Colombo said.
However bus drivers and three wheel drivers have said the hefty fine were unfair as the drivers could not afford such heavy penalties.
“We are poor. That is why we drive a three wheeler for a living. With the economy being in doldrums and not many hires for a day, where will we afford to pay these heavy fines,” A. Kolitha, a three wheel driver said.
Trade Union officials on Saturday said that following talks with the President, he had assured that there will be no increase in traffic fines without consulting the relevant parties.
Friday’s strike resulted in Sri Lanka’s public transportation coming to a virtual standstill with thousands of commuters stranded, or having to walk to their work places.