Bowsers out Trains in

June 22 (IL) Privately hired bowsers who have for years been transporting fuel of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CEYPETCO), will be dealt a heavy blow, following the decision by the Ministry of Power and Energy to transport oil through trains beginning from July 1, this year.

According to Ministry Secretary P. Weerahandi, CEYPETCO will be saving Rs. 170,000 a day, due to the new train transportation arrangement. Currently some 67 bowsers transport petrol, diesel and kerosene to all parts of the country. “However once this programme is implemented we will see a drastic reduction in the traffic congestion, because 55 bowsers will be off the road,” he said yesterday.

The Secretary also assured that even in the event of a train strike, which is an often occurrence in Sri Lanka, oil will be transported without any hitch.

He also noted that at a meeting on Monday with the General Manager Railways, Additional Secretary of the Transport Ministry and other respective officials, matters pertaining to the new plan, was discussed and an agreement was arrived.

“Even though this was an old suggestion, it was not implemented, because earlier CEYPETCO officials were very skeptical about the punctuality of trains. “However we have all come to an understating and so trains transporting oils will be punctual,” he claimed.

He said that the decision to take away bowsers would also minimize air pollution and reduce accidents. “Take a road, which has 55 bowsers transporting oil, now picture that road without those 55 bowsers. This plan will definitely ease traffic congestion on main roads,” Mr. Weerahandi stressed.

Trains will transport the oil to bulk depots, however from the bulk depots, bowsers will have to carry the oil to those respective fuel stations. He also agreed that this would be a heavy blow to the privately hired bowsers. “There will be protests by these bowsers owners, but we are still going ahead with it, because we are saving a lot of money,” he said.

Meanwhile sources also alleged that most of these private bowsers currently transporting oil belong to close associates and friends of certain past ministers, and other top-level officials of the Power and Energy Ministry.