Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 9 February 2014





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Government Gazette

Prepaid bus tickets: Bus owners urge transparency

The Ministry of Private Transport Services and the National Transport Commission (NTC) launched a prepaid ticketing service for private buses last week in partnership with Mobitel and the People's Bank. This is the second prepaid bus ticketing system introduced by the transport authorities and in June 2011 a similar service was launched with the telecommunication company Dialog Axiata. However, this service was limited to private buses on identified long-haul routes.

The new electronic payment system will cover all 28,000 private buses and the authorities expect bus owners and passengers to benefit from the new service. However, private bus owners said a second electronic payment system was not necessary and what is needed at present is to address issues in the existing system.

The Chairman of the Private Bus Owners Association, Gemunu Wijeratne said that the first system introduced in 2011 was not successful as it could not be expanded to cover all private buses due several reasons such as technical issues, doubt among bus owners on the transparency of the transactions, delay in cash transfers and reluctance of conductors to implement the new system.Therefore, to address these issues and we had discussions with the Central Bank, NTC and other stakeholders on a proper auditing mechanism to ensure transparency in the system.

The stumbling block in implementing the auditing system was the huge cost. The NTC and the ministry should find solutions to these issues and not introduce another system with the same problems, he said.

Wijeratne said that bus owners feel that there is room for corruption in the new electronic payment system because bus owners already pay extortion money to various parties.

Therefore, the electronic payment system should be transparent. “We should have confidence in the computer system and we don't know how the system handles our money.” The daily revenue should be transferred to the bus owner's account at the end of the day. The sale of cards and ticketing transactions should be handled by separate agencies to ensure there is no corruption in the system. After addressing these issues the implementation of the system can be made compulsory, he said.

- GW

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