COPA to facilitate transporting goods via Railways | Daily News

COPA to facilitate transporting goods via Railways

The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) recommended to the Transport Ministry Secretary to implement a plan to streamline and promote transporting goods on trains.

The Committee highlighted the importance of streamlining the transportation of goods by rail to reduce traffic congestion and environment pollution caused by large containers.

A special Audit Report to evaluate the use of the Railway for goods transportation was considered at the COPA meeting on February 11 chaired by State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara.

It was revealed that when the Railway was started, from 1867 to 1934, the freight revenue of the department was 57 per cent and it has decreased to 9.3 per cent in 2017, 8.5 per cent in 2018 and 7.1 per cent in 2019.

The Department of Railways, therefore, has moved away from transporting goods and it has been identified as a major cause of losses. The importance of taking steps to minimize this loss without placing a heavy burden on the Treasury was discussed at the meeting.

Railways General Managere Dilantha Fernando said that the Railway is mainly engaged in passenger transport and the infrastructure should be developed for transporting goods.

Although there were three agreements with a major cement company to transport cement by Rail, it was revealed that due to the lack of infrastructure development of the Railway Department, only the agreement to transport limestone from Aruwakkaru to Puttalam is in effect now.

The committee said that the main customers of the Railway have been lost in the recent past and in consultation with the relevant parties, action should be taken to reconnect them and retain the customers. The committee also drew attention to the lack of a proper scientific plan for goods transportation rates and recommended that a formal programme be prepared for the same.

The committee also discussed that a large amount of unused resources including lands and other equipment were at the Railways that had not been properly identified and utilised for the betterment of the institution. The committee instructed the Secretary to look into the matter and submit a report.

Officials of the Petroleum Storage Terminals Limited (CPSTL) revealed that 32 per cent of the fuel transportation is carried by trains and it is expected to increase it to 40 per cent in the future and they pointed out the need to enter into an agreement with the Railway Department to increase this to 40 per cent.

The Committee recommended to the Secretary that marketing strategies be introduced to suit the present by avoiding the administrative and marketing issues of the Commercial Superintendent’s Office of the Railways. The committee also emphasised the importance of changing the attitudes of the employees of the Railway Department.

State Ministers Lasantha Alagiyawanna and Duminda Dissanayake, Parliamentarians Tissa Attanayake, Prof. Ranjith Bandara, Dr. Upul Galappaththi, B.Y.G Ratnasekera, Niroshan Perera, Weerasinghe Weerasumana, Dr. Harini Amasooriya and government officials were present.