The cash-strapped Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB), the state-run bus service, is reeling from staggering losses of Rs. 1 billion per year, attributed to rampant corruption, irregularities and accidents involving its fleet, an official said.
This is in addition to the potential financial losses resulting from improper procurement procedures for spare parts.
Currently, the SLTB has a fleet of 6,800 buses, but only 5,800 are operational. Its Chairman Lalith de Alvis told Daily Mirror that the SLTB suffers an estimated revenue loss of a staggering Rs. 720 million annually due to malpractices by bus conductors and fraudulent passengers.
He said, “Approximately 50 percent of bus conductors are directly involved in ticketing fraud. They collect fares from passengers but fail to issue tickets, causing significant revenue leakage for the SLTB. Moreover, some passengers deliberately evade fare payments, particularly short-distance travellers in areas like Colombo.”
Asked about the methodology used to estimate revenue loss, he said it was based on findings from random raids conducted by SLTB flying squads. “We sample these findings and extrapolate the average loss,” he added.
The SLTB management is currently evaluating the losses incurred through irregularities in the procurement process.
He said that the SLTB is compelled to allocate Rs. 465 million to cover damages resulting from bus accidents. (Kelum Bandara)