Private bus operators who initially demanded a 26% fare hike from tomorrow, have now softened their stance, following Transport Minister A.H.M. Fowzie`s refusal to yield to their demands.
Fowzie said government will stick to it`s stand and will not definitely effect a 26% fare hike as demanded by the Privet bus owners.
Inspite of their threat to launch an islandwide strike tomorrow if their demand was not met, Gemunu Wijeratne, Chairman, Lanka Private Bus Operators Association yesterday said that they are amenable to a negotiated settlement.
We have also demanded that the minimum fare be increased from Rs four to Rs five Wijeratne noted.
Speaking to `The Island` he said `We are flexible` to
any reasonable fare hike offered by the government although we demanded a 26% increase earlier.
Wijeratne complained that it was the first time that the price of diesel has been increased by the government by such a margin and the bus owners find difficult to operate their fleets with the increasing cost of living and the diesel hike.
Earlier we had asked for a fare hike from the National Transport Commission(NTC)and they agreed to effect a 20% hike in July,but it has not been granted so far explained Wijeratne.
Chairman Federation of Omnibus Operators Associations Stanley Fernando said a fare hike is urgently needed with the increase in the price of diesel.
Transport Minister A.H.M. Fowzie commenting on the diesel hike said that the government was forced to increase the price of diesel as there was no alternative as the Petroleum Corporation is incurring a loss of Rs 1.5 billion per month on fuel even after increasing the price of diesel.Corporation has incurred a loss of Rs 11 billion during the first four months of the year. In March it was Rs 3 billion while in April so far it has incurred a Rs 3.5 billion loss explained the minister.