Thousands of commuters throughout Sri Lanka were stranded on Friday as a majority of drivers in the public transportation sector went on strike from midnight against the government’s decision to raise fines for traffic violations.

The strike was launched by drivers of public buses, school vans and three wheelers, which make up most of Sri Lanka’s public transportation.

Officials from the Transport Ministry said that only the railway sector was operating according to the normal schedule after the Railways Trade Union held successful talks with President Maithripala Sirisena on Thursday and decided not to take part in the strike.

Those involved in the strike said they were against the government’s decision to raise fines to Rs. 25,000 against six forms of traffic violations which include speed driving, drunk driving and overtaking from the left side.

The government said the fines were raised to minimize fatal accidents, which has increased in recent months.

President Sirisena in a speech in Parliament on Thursday requested all who engage in protests and strikes to resolve their issues through discussions without inconveniencing the public.

The President added that he too would personally intervene to resolve matters if discussions with the relevant ministers failed.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake in a statement said that despite the strike action by various factions, he would not allow drivers to drive in a manner which would pose a threat to the lives of passengers.

He said the government was ready to take any action to protect its citizens and it would face any situation in a democratic manner. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/

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