Buses have still not gone to Sri Lanka

NEARLY two months after Ipswich Buses pledged to donate two vehicles to the tsunami relief effort in South East Asia, bosses are still waiting to hand over their gifts.

NEARLY two months after Ipswich Buses pledged to donate two vehicles to the tsunami relief effort in South East Asia, bosses are still waiting to hand over their gifts.

Ipswich Buses has pledged to donate a bus which was due to be retired from its fleet and its current breakdown truck which is also due to be replaced this year.

However bureaucratic and shipping problems mean that no buses have yet left Britain for Sri Lanka or Indonesia - and organisers of the Asia Bus Response charity set up to send the vehicles away still don't know how or when they will leave.

Charity spokeswoman Mitch de Faria said: "Shipping these vehicles to the area that needs them is not easy.

"Indonesia, especially the island of Sumatra, has virtually no one running anything and trying to get anything there is almost impossible.

"There are big problems in Sri Lanka as well. After the tsunami struck the government there banned the import of all vehicles.

Most Read

"That was because Indian smugglers were using the chaos to get vehicles into their country without paying import tax.

"We've now spoken to the Sri Lanka government and hope to get this all sorted out soon but at the moment nothing has been fixed."

Transporting vehicles from all over Britain to Asia was also proving difficult.

Ms de Faria said: "We don't know if they will be able to go on a Roll-On Roll-Off vessel or whether they will be stored in the hold.

"If they go on a RO-RO vessel we would be able to fill them with relief supplies and we shall probably launch local appeals at that time.

"However if they are stored in a hold it won't be possible to put anything in the vehicles."

The Asia Bus Response appeal was launched in January after it became clear that many of the buses in Indonesia and Sri Lanka had been destroyed by the tsunami on Boxing Day.

Bus companies from across Britain agreed to offer old vehicles which are considered ideal for the local areas because they are simpler to maintain than modern coaches which have many in-built computers.

Ipswich Buses managing director Malcolm Robson said his company had stored the vehicles and was ready to send them off as soon as it got the call.

He said: "We don't know what we will be able to put inside the bus - but we will be able to send a fair number of spare parts with it."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter