ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday September 2, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 14

Save me from a slow death!

I am the Hendala bridge, a few metres away from the main Negombo-Colombo Road, which is the main highway to the only International Airport.

No one can see me from the main road, and you could call me a poor relative! No, I suppose I need not call myself that because there is no one to identify as a rich relative; with all my relatives -- the roads and bridges in the vicinity -- being almost as badly off as myself. However, I am exceptional because of the cost to the country in neglecting me as I carry a load which people ignore and ignore at their own peril!

A view of the long-suffering bridge.

Since I am being neglected and treated like a nobody, I have perverse pleasure in seeing the chaos my neglect causes to commuters on the main Negombo-Colombo highway -- supposed to be all important to commerce, tourism and to all international travellers during the day. Because of the chaos in turning on to me, the traffic gets so jammed up that everyone on the main highway suffers, but no one notices me a miserable, decrepit old structure tucked away in a corner, dying by degrees.

All that is needed is to look into my simple demands which may not cost as much as a couple of Benz cars to rectify! I need to die with dignity and be replaced by a scion who is strong enough to take the load which is now a regular feature of the Hendala Road and involves carrying perhaps thousands of tons more per day.
I was born so long ago that I cannot remember exactly when, but I know that in the Public Service I should have been retired a long time ago. I am now like a bull hitched to a cart, which is condemned to run till the bull dies! I do remember with great nostalgia that about thirty years ago (when the main road was widened for the Non-Aligned Summit meeting) the burden that I carried were carts, a few motor cars and buses which used me without getting snarled.

Now everyday I carry angry, irritable people who curse and swear at me without giving me credit for what I do without complaint. My bones were much stronger 30 years ago and they were good enough to carry the burden then. But even that burden would have been tough on me now so many years later. Now I think there are a dozen or more container yards that use me on a daily basis and there are the behemoths - the Shell Gas bowsers which are really awesome, each weighing more than what I would have carried as a daily load -- which trundle across making me gasp and groan in despair (In fact I am not the only victim and many houses and buildings around are cracking due to the weight of these monsters).

No one seems to care that I am on the verge of collapsing and would like to now die with dignity. Can I go to the Supreme Court and ask for the right to be released from my pain? Please readers, advise me. The residents spend precious time waiting patiently for monsters on the road to edge with difficulty past each other, sometimes jamming me up and having the additional burden of bearing a severe weight for long periods. One of these days I will teach everyone a lesson by self-destructing and bringing everything to a standstill.

Another view of the long-suffering bridge.

Some months ago, to help me by easing my load, a temporary partner was put alongside me. Rumour has it that it was just a hired hand and someone is being paid by the day to lie beside me. Anyway, the comfort I had is gone because the temp has herself collapsed and within the first few months had gaping holes which were patched up, but this time the holes are enough to send a wheel through so it is sleeping idle, and of no value to anyone.

Did I say no one cares? No really, the poor residents of the area care and my friend who is writing on my behalf has been talking to friends asking when they should get together and prevent all heavy vehicles from crossing me as I was never intended to carry their load and they are a real public menace.

So there is sympathy building up, and perhaps the authorities may use water cannons on my friends when they finally break and decide on some action to protect me as well as their legitimate interests. It is said that people are playing football with the problem kicking it from one desk to another. Politicians will probably want to hire another partner, for reasons best known to them, to provide temporary relief.

What happens to taxes paid by the residents and businesses of the Hendala area? The drains are filthy (especially in front of the Town Council Office and teeming with mosquitoes) the roads are broken, the lights constantly fail, and unless all my friends who reside in the area are also given Pajeros free, free generators, free mosquito nets, and I don't know what else, it looks as if the Hendala area is doomed.

One thing I know is that I would not want to be in the shoes of politicians when the next election comes round! I would also appeal to the business people who use me to think of the inconvenience they are causing to all the residents and stand up and take responsibility for the infrastructure they use and to develop the area without taking things for granted. You could exert pressure in getting something done by those who are supposed to be in authority. Save me from a slow death and help yourselves!

By Franklyn Amerasinghe, Friend of the bridge which serves us!

Top to the page

Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.