Permit Fever

July 16, 2009 (LBO) – Private bus operators in Sri Lanka are clamouring for permits to ply the northern Jaffna route with the end of a drawn out civil conflict, Amal Kumarage, chairman of the island’s National Transport Commission said.

Government forces defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels in May after a lengthy military campaign and is trying to revive the former war zone.

The govenrment has said it is trying to resettle close to 300,000 people displaced by the war and now held in refugee camps in the north while the authorities search for Tamil Tiger separatists among them.

H M Bandara, Director Planning, Road Development Authority, said transport on the main A-9 highway to Jaffna road had been temporarily suspended after being resumed recently.

He said it was not because of road conditions but because of security concerns.

The government has said it has to clear large areas of the north of mines laid by Tigers and also to catch remnants of the group who may still be on the loose.

“The NTC is inundated with requests by private bus operators to be given permits to run to Jaffna,” he said.

He said that although there was a belief that open trade had resumed between Jaffna and the south, at the moment even