Safari drivers in quarantine quandary after Yala tour | Daily News

Safari drivers in quarantine quandary after Yala tour

The jeep drivers protesting their quarantine.-The Army taking away the drivers for quarantine. Pictures by Nuwan Jayasekera in Suriyawewa.
The jeep drivers protesting their quarantine.-The Army taking away the drivers for quarantine. Pictures by Nuwan Jayasekera in Suriyawewa.

A tense situation occurred when the jeep drivers and tour guides who assisted the Ukrainian tourists here under a pilot project who toured the Yala National Park, were instructed to quarantine for 14 days.

Several Ukrainian nationals who arrived in Sri Lanka under the Tourist Pilot Project have been identified as being COVID infected, however, they have been allowed to travel in the country, it was reported.

Accordingly, the group visited the Yala Safari Park in 28 jeeps and after leaving the area, the military have instructed that the drivers of the jeeps should be quarantined for 14 days.

These instructions received strong protest from jeep drivers and owners.

The jeep drivers said, “With the intervention of an MP from the area, the Ukrainians obtained 28 jeeps to tour the Yala Safari Park. They told us that they would pay Rs. 5,000 for one jeep. Somehow when we were asked to come on this trip we also joined this as per the prescribed health regulations. At least before this trip no one told us that we will have to quarantine for 14 days after the tour. The organizers misled us and told us at the end of the tour that we should not go home and go to quarantine.

The jeep drivers said, “We are earning a daily wage of 700 rupees for driving. The organizers deliberately put us in this predicament. There is no way to feed our children for 14 days. Why are they putting us in a difficult position like this?

“We have been working as labourers for almost a year without the tourism industry. We went on this tour because it’s supported by the government.We demand immediate justice for this.”

After the tourists left the Yala Safari Park at around 5 pm, the safari jeeps were parked at the Yala Army camp premises and the 28 jeep drivers were taken by a special bus to a quarantine center at around 11.30 pm.