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No move to vest railway station management in other companies - Dullas

KOTTE: Transport Minister Dullas Alahapperuma yesterday assured the House that the Transport Ministry has not taken any decision to vest the management of railway stations in any local or foreign company.

The Minister responding to a question by JVP Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa, said the Ministry has no intention whatsoever to hand over railway station management to the IOC or any other foreign company.

Alahapperuma said amidst the present financial crisis faced by the Railway Department, an open invitation was made to local businessmen to support the renovation of railway stations. "Responding to our invitation Caltex has already come forward to renovate the Kandy railway station. In addition, the Ministry has discussed with several banks and companies to renovate these railway stations," he said.

"Following our discussions, the Commercial Bank has pledged to renovate the Galle railway station while Laugfs Company has agreed to renovate several railway stations countrywide."

According to the Minister, the Ministry will provide the opportunity to the relevant company which has renovated that particular railway station to display their advertisement at that railway station.

"Therefore any property belonging to the Railway Department or any right of the railway employees will not be vested into these companies."

After completing the renovation of a railway station, that particular company will also maintain that railway station for three years, Alahapperuma said.

The Minister said there are 330 railway stations throughout the country. "But these railway stations have not been properly maintained or renovated over the past several years due to the lack of resources at the Railway Department." Having considered this, the Ministry requested businessmen and companies in the country to support ministry attempts to renovate these railway stations, he said. Alahapperuma also noted that under the Railway Act, a land belonging to the Railway Department can be leased to a maximum of five years.

"But the former UNP Government had leased out such lands to 25 to 50 years by violating the Railway Act. As a result, the Railway Department has lost nearly 2,500 acres of lands belonging to it," he added.

 

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