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Route permits scam on Expressway

The government incurs a loss of Rs 700 million annually due to the improper methods of issuing route permits to operate buses on the Southern Expressway, Lanka Private Bus Owners' Association (LPBOA) said.

Addressing the media yesterday LPBOA president Gemunu Wijeratne said, most of the route permits, to operate buses on the Southern Expressway, were issued violating proper tender procedures to political henchmen and the fee charged per route permit was way below the stipulated sum.
"The fee for a route permit for a bus operating on the Southern Expressway is Rs 3 million. There are about 200 buses operating on Southern Expressway, out of which more than 100 have permanent route permits issued in 2011. The rest of the buses operate on temporary route permits," he said.

He urged the government to issue 300 new route permits to operate buses on the Southern Expressway, as the valid time period of the permanent route permits was over by the start of 2017. Wijeratne stressed that the route permits should be issued at a fee of Rs 3 million according to the tender procedures. He alleged that route permits were currently being issued to certain operators at sums of Rs 1.2 million. "This sum is way below the required rate," he added. He also criticized the Government for turning a blind eye to irregularities despite the concerns raised over the years.

"We lodged complaints with the Bribery Commission and CID. However, most of those who had obtained the route permits outside the standard procedures still operate buses and have earned large sums of money," added Wijeratne.