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Sri Lanka declares railways an essential service after youth’s death

Sri Lanka declares railways an essential service after youth’s death. Image Source: IANS News

Colombo, Sep 12 : Sri Lanka on Tuesday declared railways as an essential service with immediate effect after an engineering student fell off the roof of one of the few over-crowded trains that ran following a sudden strike called by a group of locomotive drivers.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe issued a gazette declaring railways as an essential service following a request by Transport Minister Bandula Gunawardana.

The country’s train service was severely hampered with the cancellation more than 40 trains due to the sudden strike called by around 80 locomotive drivers from Monday midnight.

“Action should be taken against all those acting as terrorists and resorting to trade union action.” Gunawardena told the media after observing a minute’s silence in respect of the deceased student.

The 18-year-old who travelled on the roof of a Colombo-bound train fell after knocking against the roof of a train station. He was run over by the same train.

One of the main loss-making government institutions, running Sri Lanka Railways (SLR) has been a hard task for every government due to its massive workforce and powerful labour unions.

With over 14,000 employees, SLR has to spend over (Sri Lanka) Rs 10 billion every year only for the salaries.

The island nation’s closest neighbour, India, has been supporting to run the over 150-year-old train system and as of January this year, India had loaned over $1 billion to help revive the SLR.

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