Letters to the Editor


Putting brakes on pedestrian crossing accidents
Are we a nation of fools? The way in which we have gone about our road safety and the way in which we drive on our roads certainly suggests this.

Take for example the recent accident on the Colombo Katunayake Road where two students were killed while crossing the road on a zebra crossing. The children were mowed down by a driver who was driving at high speed overtaking vehicles that had stopped for children to cross violating all rules that a driver is expected to observe at a pedestrian crossing.

What are the rules that the driver should observe at a pedestrian crossing?

1. No overtaking within the boundaries of a pedestrian crossing. The boundaries of a pedestrian crossing are determined by the zig zag lines on either side of the zebra crossing.

2. No parking within this area

3. No loading or unloading within this area

4. Approach a pedestrian crossing ready to stop if necessary

5. If a pedestrian has entered the zebra area, the driver must stop.

None of these rules are given in our highway code booklet from which the drivers learn road rules. All they have is a picture of a zebra crossing. This must have been copied from the British highway code but they have failed to copy the text that goes with it.

If we go back to the accident mentioned, you find the driver has violated rules 1,4 and 5. As drivers do not observe rule No 4 Police had put speed breakers to force the drivers to do slow down. However after two days they were removed by the police as it was causing traffic jams. All this indicates that a surface pedestrian crossing is not suitable in this position and therefore the authorities must provide an overpass or an underpass. Only fools will say there are no funds available for an over or underpass. Therefore we have a surface pedestrian crossing, but the drivers are not obliged to obey the rules of a pedestrian crossing, because if they did it would cause traffic jams.

Take another accident that happened a few years ago at a pedestrian crossing in front of Kingswood College in Kandy where a student was killed. The bus stop here is within the area of the pedestrian crossing.

Another accident that happened in Kandy was when a school child was at the pedestrian crossing near Kandy Nursing Home. After the accident authorities put speed breakers, not right across the road but offset. Now what many drivers do is get on to the wrong side of the road to avoid the speed breakers making the area even more dangerous.
M. Nihal Palipane

Beware of eggscreta!
'Know your food print' (The Sunday Times Plus 1.12.02) prompted me to add more on consumer education.

Most of the eggs that are displayed for sale in the market have poultry excreta on them. The excreta contains a bacteria called shigella which gets absorbed into the yolk through the porous shell. Consumption of contaminated eggs causes vomiting and diarrhoea. When these eggs are stored in a refrigerator other food items also can get contaminated (eggs can be kept for one month when stored in a well ventilated dry place in egg trays).

A poultry owner knows that clean eggs can be sent to market without any extra cost if only he spends some extra time in the farm. But due to his lethargy, the innocent consumer has to pay dearly.

Selling unclean eggs is a punishable offence.
P. A. Binduhewa

Goodbye, pol sambol
'Man shall not live by bread alone,' decreed the Holy Bible, but some wags have perhaps with no disrespect intended have said 'Man shall not live by bread alone but with butter (margarine) also!'

To my mind the indigenous version thereof would read "...but with pol sambol also," as the majority of Sri Lankans including the writer would have preferred sambol to butter. This is mainly taking the cost factor and of course the appetizing quality into account, as it also a delicacy and a must on the breakfast table of most Moratuwa homes that I know of.

But alas! is it time to say goodbye to those small delicacies with the present price of bread and coconut spiralling. A coconut has gone up to Rs. 30 per nut!! A nutty problem indeed!
Claude Fernando

Increasing rates, decreasing service
Mayors come and mayors go. Most appear to be deaf and blind but not dumb as they rattle off to the media giving the tax payer false hopes.

Why do we pay rates to the Municipal Council? What do we get in return? Not even an acknowledgment to our complaints.

Mount Avenue, off Hotel Road Mount Lavinia is a widely used road.

The back entrance of Girls' High School falls on to this road. As such, vehicles are parked and children walk along this road at great risk.

The entrance of the Anglican Church too opens out to this road.

When the car park of the Mount Lavinia Hotel is full cars are parked here.

Tourists and hundreds of locals use this road to go to the beach. But what is the sight that greets us on this most important road?

Heapes of gravel lie along the side of the road, using up valuable space.

Only one street light functions at night and that too occasionally. (Letters to engineers of the relevant authorities have been of no avail.)

Creepers and branches of trees are entangled with the wires that sag dangerously. One light post tilts precariously to one side.

Dirty water flows across the road to drains that are clogged with refuse. This water also collects in a huge pot hole at the corner of Girls' High School adjoining the Church. This could breed Dengue.

On top of all this, residents living on the adjoining road (De Soysa Road) dump their refuse at the end of Mount Avenue.

Could anyone please enlighten as as to what purpose our money is being used by the Municipal Councils?
Queenie Balasuriya
Mount Lavinia

Who is to be blamed this time?
When the Sri Lanka cricket team returned from England after losing the Test and one-day series, excuses such as cold weather, seaming pitches and bad tour management by Chandra Schafter were cited for the dismal performance.

I wonder what the excuses are going to be now that the South African tour is over? Will the captain say the weather was too hot and the wicket bouncy? Or will he say that Manager Ajith Jayasekera and Cricket Manager Duleep Mendis should be blamed too? It is said that Mr. Schafter was not considered for the tour because he was too much of a disciplinarian for a team that blames every thing other than its own performance.

It is high time the authorities do their homework and get our first class matches played on more bouncy and seaming pitches before accepting invitations to tour countries like Australia, South Africa, West Indies and England. We were world champs in 1996 but we played in our backyard (Pakistan) and not in South Africa.

Please do not waste money in sending Mr. Mendis and Co. to South Africa to work out World Cup strategies since it will not make any difference until we do our home work two years in advance and get the players exposed to wickets similar to the ones in South Africa, Australia or England.


Widening a wide road
The Matale Municipal Council is widening the Gongawela Road from the Railway Station junction to Godapola Road Junction. The width of this new road is equal to the width of trunk and main roads.

Gongawela Road is neither a trunk road nor a main road. Godapola Road junction where the road project ends is almost a dead-end. Gongawela Road is used by a large number of schoolchildren and if and when this road is widened speed fiends are going to be a major threat to these children.

The stretch between Harrison Jones Road junction and Dole Road junction is quite wide enough. To further widen this stretch means unnecessary encroachment on private property.

The existing drain on the other side of this stretch is earmarked to be shifted into private road frontage. If this happens, a number of business establishments would lose the road frontage.

Similarly, the culvert at Dole Road junction is quite wide and strong and needs no widening or reinforcing. Isn't it a colossal waste of money on an unnecessary venture? We hope that some of this money will instead be spent to repair the umpteen number of roads which are in a deplorable state within the municipal limits.

Stanley Peiris

Leaves of life: Journey of past, present and future
'Leaves of life' published in The Sunday Times Plus last month, brought memories of an old friend, the late S. Sittampalam, one-time Commissioner of Inland Revenue. He was one such 'reader' much sought after by leaders and top folks at that time.

Bundles of this type of ola leaves came to his hands, brought by one Mahalingam from South India. They were supposed to have been written by ancient Rishis (those who could see the past, present and the future as one continuum of consciousness, with the spatio-temporal dimension contracted into a single point of perception, after its journey of expansion on the horizontal mundane).

Having seen this journey of certain individuals, they were concerned with those on the inward-journey of contraction from the periphery to the bindu-centre, and, as guidelines to them, recorded what they saw in such leaves; scattering or burying them, here and there, with their psychic, prescient knowledge that these will be found or surface at the appropriate time, when such beings will be re-born, ready to tread the return path, karmically ordained.

Such recordings were known as 'Sabdha Rishi Vakyams' (Saying of Rishis in expressed or audible sound) of what they perceived in their inaudible and unexpressed modality.

These 'states' were supposed to be the 'womb' of desires and actions (fulfilled or otherwise) of past lives; the nexus of the past and the present, conjointly mapping out the future.

These were scripted in an ancient style, and the time factor therein, differed from our familiar time reckoning - a fact which often led to discredit and disbelief, being hard to comprehend even by well-versed readers of the old lingo.

There were also other forms of Vakyams, apart from the above, spiritually oriented, meant to direct people, still on the outward-expansion of time/space/experience journey of the continuum, to guide them on strictly secular activities of governance, leadership, military prowess, domestic life etc., fitting into the Hindu concept of the four ashrams of mortal existence, viz, two of which are that of Grihastha (householder); Brachmachairya (student of Divine knowledge) and the other two that of Vanaprastha (forest-dweller, leading an inner-life of contemplation etc., detached from the 'forest' of the mundane) and that of a Sannyasin (a freed wanderer) and again, which could be anywhere one is at any particular moment of time, living; 'the life, ordinaire' of a person free of bondage. These last two coming within the parameters of Sabdha Vakyams pertaining to the return journey.

Sam Wickramasinghe

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