It is compulsory that all three wheelers should be fitted with metres, while laws would be amended stipulating that only drivers over 35 years would be permitted to operate three wheelers on hire, said Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva in Parliament yesterday.
He made this statement during the debate on Regulations Under the Motor Traffic Act.
Presenting several proposals for the regulation of three wheelers, he said the sounds of these vehicles should not cause irritation to road users. “If a commuter requires a bill for the ride, three wheeler drivers should provide it to them. We have implemented a mechanism to regulate the charges. Today, the trend is for a youth to get a three wheeler the moment he turns 18 years. This would be regulated in the near future and only those above the age of 35 years, would be permitted to operate three wheelers for hire. However, for those already in service, nothing could be done. Further, some three wheelers display various types of art and pictures on their three wheelers, causing distraction to other drivers. Hence, display of such unsuitable artwork should be avoided.
There is an increase in road accidents and these accidents could be contributed to the increase in accidents. From 2007 to 2016, there had been 366,167 road accidents recorded, while 25,624 deaths had occurred as a result. More people have died of road accidents than in the war. Accidents especially at railway crossings have notably increased, mainly due to reckless driving especially at railway crossings. Therefore, I propose to increase the fines to Rs. 25,000 for reckless driving at railway crossings.
There are over a million three wheelers in this country, while the roads are not equipped to handle such numbers. Hence, three wheelers entering the market need to be regulated. Further, the excess of three wheelers have caused many disputes, especially for parking and at taxi stands. The same goes for busses as well. Therefore, we intend to promote the import of environmentally friendly vehicles such as those operated electrically.
Meanwhile, Railway workers unions launched a strike last night over salary anomalies. They demanded that their salary scales be revised as MP 1 and 2. They discussed the issue with the Prime Minister’s Secretary and also with us. The PM’s Secretary notified the National Wages and Workers Commission to adjust their salaries as they wanted. However, the Wages and Workers Commission refused the request. Health unions have also demanded that their salaries be revised. There are practical issues in resolving these problems and these unions should understand this. The Deputy Minister is also discussing the issue with them. However, these are issues between the unions and how are we to resolve these?
Therefore, I urge the railway workers to abandon the strike and return to work without derailing the public transportation services. During the last one day strike, Rs. 17 million was lost. The Railways Department runs at a loss of around Rs. 6,000 million annually. Hence, we will have to take firm decisions in order to regulate public transport,” Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said.
Prime Minister proposes Party Leaders' meeting to clear path for LG polls
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday in Parliament, proposed to hold a Party Leaders’ Meeting next week to sort out the remaining legislative issues and clear the path to hold the much delayed Local Government polls.
The Premier made this proposal when MEP Leader MP Dinesh Gunawardena raised concerns over the possibility for LG polls to get delayed even beyond January, due to fresh legislative issues that had cropped up.
MP Gunawardena pointing out the relevant Gazette notification to facilitate LG elections, which was due to be held this week, has been further postponed and the Local Government and Provincial Councils Ministry is to bring in another Amendment Bill to the Local Authorities Ordinance to rectify language discrepancies in the previous Amendment.
MP Gunawardena suggested going for a resolution in Parliament to rectify the existing technical issues, rather than presenting another Amendment. “Nobody could challenge the validity of a Parliament resolution and therefore we could proceed fast and hold the LG elections,” he said.
However, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya pointed out that the Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faiszer Musthapha was not agreeable to the proposal of moving a resolution. “The Minister had consulted the AG who had said that an Amendment Bill was necessary for that purpose,” he said.
The Prime Minister said Minister Musthapha is to present the necessary amendments to the next Cabinet meeting on Tuesday and that a Party Leaders’ Meeting could be scheduled after that to come to an agreement. “I will also consult the Attorney General’s opinion over the matter. The issue over the Ambagamuwa and Kalmunai are also there. However, these would not necessarily delay the LG polls any further,” the Prime Minister said.
Don't derail train service, warns Transport and Civil Aviation Minister
Transort and Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva urging railway personnel avoid derailing the train service, warned that stern action would be taken if they did so. He said that due to such strikes, the public could take matters into their hands, which would turn into a dangerous situation.
The minister said so in Parliament yesterday, with regard to the railway services strike which commenced last night.
Although the reason for the strike was salary anomalies, destabilising the transport services of the country was unjust, the Minister said. Therefore he urged railway employees to call off the strike and return railway servives back on track and avoid inconveniencing the general public.