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103 unusable railway carriages imported!

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The Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) has expressed strong displeasure regarding the alleged waste of money caused by the importation of 103 unusable railway carriages from India.

The COPA charged that out of the 160 railway carriages imported from India, 103 have so far not been used.

In an inquiry made by the committee in this regard, the head of the railway department has said that the railway carriages used in Sri Lanka have the vacuum break system.

But they pointed out that these new train carriages have the Air Brake system.

When asked who gave the approval for the importation of these carriages and added that the officials who took these decisions should be held responsible.

There was also a long discussion about the delayed importation of railway carriages which were planned to be imported to Sri Lanka under the Indian loan subsidy in 2017.

This information was revealed when the Committee on Public Accounts met recently (05) under the chairmanship of Professor Tissa Witharana to examine the current and future plans under the Ministry of Transport and Highways to provide efficient transport services to the general public.

Due to the increase in bus prices, information was also revealed in the COPA committee that the purchase of tyres and other accessories for buses is problematic.

Meanwhile, the ministry officials have alleged that the diesel issued for some private buses is being sold at higher prices.

The committee also discussed about providing diesel to private buses through filling stations belonging to SLTB depots. The officials specially pointed out that some private buses are getting diesel from these fuel stations and selling it at a higher price. They stated that it is cheaper for bus owners to sell diesel at a higher price than to run buses on the route.

Accordingly, the committee pointed out that this situation should be controlled and the public should be prevented from being inconvenienced, and a system should be developed to check whether the buses that pump fuel from the depot filling stations are running. Especially the possibility of applying of G.P.S. technology for buses was also discussed here.

In addition, it was also revealed that although USD 1,056,555 was spent on the Sri Lanka Railway's Master Plan in 2017 based on the financial grants of the Asian Development Bank, the same was not included in the ministry's budget or financial statements. Accordingly, a report on this was recommended to be given to the COPA. Also, there was a discussion about combining railway transportation with new technology.

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