Monday, January 19, 2009

Sri Lankan state bus operates in Kilinochchi after 20 years

Colombo (PTI): A Sri Lanka state transport bus ferried a group of passengers, for first time in last 20 years, from the captured defacto LTTE capital of Kilinochchi.

A Bus of the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) yesterday carried a group of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Kilinochchi to Vavuniya via the sensitive A9 highway route, Transport Minister, Dullas Alahapperuma said adding the trip was first such journey by a state vehicle in 20 years.

"The bus took a group of IDPs to a safer camp in Vavuniya and provided them with food, clothes and medicine as many of them did not had food for a couple of days," Minister Alahapperuma told the Daily Mirror.

Many of them have moved from the uncleared areas to the government controlled areas for several hours and the main concern of the security forces was to provide them with food and medicine as several of them were hungry and sick, the minister said.

There were hundreds of IDPs who had come to the areas during the last couple of days and were keen to settle in a secure place, Alahapperuma said.

The restart of transport is considered to be economically important for the people in the North and the South as it will help transfer the produce of one region to the other, the newspaper said.

It was felt for long that the farmers of Wanni and other parts of North are not able to realise full value of their produce as the local market was saturated.

An opening to the Southern market would ensure them a better deal even as the consumer their will benefit by more supplies reaching the region, the paper added.