Residents living in the Galle Road, Kollupitiya area in the vicinity of Temple Trees must wonder whether they are under some kind of malefic influence. For some months now residents have been subject to great inconveniences, while being denied their constitutional right to free movement.
To begin with, one side of the vital traffic artery on the Galle Road, from the Kollupitiya junction to Rotunda Gardens, has been barricaded for years, despite protests from people living in the area. We understand that this is done for reasons of security for the President.
From the way things are going, many residents fear this barricade will be with us for perpetuity.
What is unacceptable is the rude treatment often meted out to residents trying to get back to their homes in their vehicles whenever this part of the Galle Road gets closed suddenly, for one reason or another.
It should be remembered that these vehicles are conveying people who are either going to or returning from work and school, and sometimes patients who have to get to the hospital. Naturally, arguments break out between the public and the helpless police who have to enforce unpopular schedules.
And now DIG Nimal Mediweka announces that this part of the road will remain virtually closed for about a week, starting on July 27, because of the SAARC summit.
So what happens to the hundreds of people living on either side of the Galle Road who have to use cars, motorcycles, three-wheelers, etc? We need to go to work, to schools and to conduct legitimate business.
The DIG says passes will be issued by the Kollupitiya Police, but adds that these passes will be “restricted”. What in heaven does this mean?
Several residents in the area have organised themselves into societies that are recognised by the Kollupitiya Police. We suggest that the Kollupitiya Police consider issuing passes to members of these societies. Persons living in the area also should be given passes based on proof of ownership of their vehicles.
It is hoped that these restrictions on vehicles will not come into conflict with the right of the people to travel on the road.