Block I, Yala 150 jeeps allowed | Sunday Observer

Block I, Yala 150 jeeps allowed

Vehicle entry to block I of Yala National Park will be under two sessions, with 150 jeeps allowed for each session, Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife, Gamini Jayawickrama Perera said yesterday.

“The sessions will be in the morning and in the evening, with 150 vehicles allowed through the Palatupana entrance and 75 vehicles through the Katagamuwa entrance during each session.

“In addition, around 10 to 15 vehicles carrying local tourists will also be allowed in the morning sessions,” Minister Jayawickrama Perera said. These will be one-way trips where jeeps are not allowed to turn back.

The morning session will be from 6 a.m. to 12 noon and the evening session will be from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Last week, the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) imposed vehicle restrictions, limiting entry to four-hour sessions, in the morning, afternoon and evening, with each session allowing 100 vehicles from the Palatupana entry point and 50 vehicles from Katagamuwa.

The Minister further said only three jeep owner’s associations within Thissamaharama area will be allowed entry and other jeeps will not be allowed. Hotels are to inform DWC of tourist visits in advance.

The revision of entry sessions took place as a result of a discussions between the Minister and the Yala Jeep Owners’ Association, who launched protests against the limitation in vehicle entry earlier last week. “The limitations have been imposed to preserve block I for the future, including the future of jeep owners. World Bank Country Representative for Sri Lanka who visited Yala recently was concerned with high visitation and the traffic within block-I. She suggested that we close block-I,” Minister disclosed.

The Minister said to encourage visits to blocks III, IV and V of Yala, there are plans to reduce ticket rates on a promotional basis. “The Ondaatjee area of the Park is currently being developed and will be opened in one and half month’s time. Therefore, Jeep owners will have more areas to take the tourists to,” he said.