TISL writes to Transport Secy. over misuse of SLTB buses for polls work

Wednesday, 17 December 2014 00:56 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) has written to Transport Secretary Dhammika Perera over alleged misuse of SLTB buses for election purposes for incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Following is the full text of the TISL letter: We have received numerous complaints with regards to the misuse of buses belonging to the Ministry of Transport for the purpose of transporting campaign supporters by the presidential candidate of the United People’s Freedom Alliance Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. We would like to note that as the Chief Audit Officer and Administrative Head of this Ministry the responsibility to prevent the misuse of ministerial property lies within your scope of responsibility. We would also like to remind you of the letter addressed to you on 2014-11-28 by us. In most cases these busses have been obtained without any payment was made to the Ministry. Our investigations have revealed that due to this the ministry has incurred a loss of 60,000,000 LKR. Additionally transportation services in many rural areas of the country have been completely disrupted. The daily routine of many passengers who depend on public transport were disturbed along with that of students who were facing their Ordinary Level Examinations. It has been reported to us that for President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s inaugural rally held in Anuradhapura a total of 1100 busses have been used. The orders for the release of this property have been given by the Transport Minister Kumara Welgama and the Secretary to the Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya of CTB Nimal Abeysinghe against any formal protocol, as informed by the officers of the SLTB Bus Depot. As informed by the authorities of the SLTB Bus Depot, in some cases nearly 80% of all buses used in the Bus Depot have been utilised for this purpose. For example 50 out of the 57 buses in operation at the Horowpathana Bus Depot and 50 out of the 62 buses in operation of the Kekirawa Bus Depot have been misused in a similar manner. Additionally 30 buses from Jaffna, 20 buses from Vavuniya and Mullaitivu respectively and 10 buses from both Mannar and Kilinochchi have been misused for the election rally in Anuradhapura. Due to the misuse of busses for election purposes, the Ministry has incurred a loss of nearly 16,000,000 LKR financially. Even though the Transportation Minister stated that payments have been made in advance for the use of these buses, during queries made to the depots in Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Horuwpathana and Kekirawa, it was revealed that no such payment has been made. Even though some buses charged the passengers during the journey to Anuradhapura, a substantial amount of money has not been raised through this collection. In a similar manner a total of 750 buses have been utilised for the election rallies of presidential candidate Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa held in Narahenpita, Kaburupitiya, Dambulla, Nawalapitiya and Kandy. The meeting held in Narahenpita on 12 December for candidates who had contested under the UPFA for various elections had used more than 100 buses for the transportation of supporters from all parts of the country. The number plates of the aforementioned buses are annexed herewith. We urge you to take necessary steps to prevent the misuse of public property in this manner and during instances where buses are utilised for special occasions upon payment, to ensure that this doesn’t disrupt the daily routine of passengers who depend on public transportation services. The display of promotional stickers and posters in public buses: The presence of promotional material on buses bearing President Mahinda Rajapaksa is a common sight all across the country. We have received numerous complaints along with credible evidence with regards to this matter. Additionally private bus owners have complained that they have been pressurised to display promotional material of President Mahinda Rajapaksa on their buses by the Transport Authority. The Chairman of the Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association Gamunu Wijeratne has also lodged a complaint with regard to this matter. We urge you to take immediate action in preventing the occurrence of such activities in future.