Please make fare meters mandatory in trishaws Being sickly septuagenarians, my ever loving and I are compelled to depend on three-wheeler drivers for transport. Trying to find a three-wheeler driver who charges a reasonable fare is a wild goose chase whilst wilting under the ever escalating cost of living inclusive of medication and the many [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Letters to the Editor


Please make fare meters mandatory in trishaws

Being sickly septuagenarians, my ever loving and I are compelled to depend on three-wheeler drivers for transport. Trying to find a three-wheeler driver who charges a reasonable fare is a wild goose chase whilst wilting under the ever escalating cost of living inclusive of medication and the many pathological tests involved.

The run from my humble home to the channelling centre at the Mohotti private hospital at Matara usually costs me Rs. 120 one way. With a stranger on my way back it is often Rs. 130 or Rs. 140.
A few days ago around 7.30 p.m., I came across a three-wheeler driver near the Mohotti hospital.

He was the only one available at that time. I asked him to bring me back home. He said he had just taken a patient from Weligama, a distance of 12 miles, but agreed to take me. Having reached my destination I asked him the fare.

He said it was Rs. 93. It was a metered three-wheeler and the fare was clearly indicated on the meter. I was amazed and offered him Rs. 120 which is my usual fare
Having alighted I went in and locked my gate, only to realise I had left my umbrella in the three-wheeter.

I resigned myself to the loss but a few minutes later there was a bang on my gate with a flash of a bright light. Lo and behold! The good Samaritan had brought my umbrella back. Having handed it over he vanished into the darkness. I was not able to note down even the registration number, I was so flabbergasted by his act.

Metered three-wheelers are a blessing. Yet we don’t have them in Matara. Why? This humble missive serves as an impassioned plea to the President to make fare meters mandatory in trishaws statutorily by the amendment of the relevant act maybe the Motor Traffic Act or whatever is applicable.

Nanda Nanayakkara, Matara

Newer and newer regulations; yet less action or results

It looks as if the current administration has made it a hobby of passing new amendments to the Acts, Regulations, rules, directives etc. One wonders whether this is to keep the public entertained or give an impression that the administration is not just passing time. Nonetheless, the fact remains that little or no intended result is achieved by these laws because there is no strategic arrangement down the line for effective implementation of the new policies and new laws. Ultimately the shelves are filling up with documents that hardly ever deserve a second glance. Sri Lanka could easily be named as one of the countries with too many laws and very little action.

Louis Dembitz Brandeis (an associate judge of the US Supreme Court) once said: “Our government… teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”

If laws are made for the benefit of the society, based on sound scientific principles after consultation with stake-holders and members of the public they should be made with clear strategies for meaningful implementation in order to achieve the intended objectives. In Sri Lanka hardly a day passes without a new law being enacted or amended and pompous announcements being made that something or other is prohibited!

One such law is the Food (Hygiene) Regulations recently published under the provisions of the Food Act that is due to come into force with effect from November 1, 2012. Although the Food (Hygiene) Regulations contain provisions that are most suited for the present day and would alleviate the enormous food safety problems faced by the consumers they would be only useful if they are properly implemented. Regulations of this nature cannot be enforced like Emergency regulations or curfews to overcome certain security situations. It is essential that all stake-holders should be made aware of the contents of the law to enable them to comply with them. It takes a lot of preparation, deployment of personnel and dispersal of resources for compliance.

Imparting knowledge and skill is one of the key areas in the implementation of regulations of this nature. Not only the owners and workers of the hundreds of thousands of catering establishments around the country will be taken by surprise on November 1st, but also most of the officers- mostly Public Health Inspectors who are charged with the functions of implementation would be even more surprised as most of them have had no access to these regulations or been given orientation on the modalities of implementation.

What this would effectively mean is that Food Hygiene in Sri Lanka is a ‘non-starter’ due to lack of strategies, planning and preparatory arrangements on the part of the Ministry of Health that published these regulations.

Another draft piece of legislation apparently in the making is the “Medicinal Drugs Authority Act’ replacing the current Cosmetic Devices and Drugs Act’. Going through the contents of this draft, one can only perceive an additional feature of establishing an “Authority” in place of the existing Department providing for appointment of a Chairman, Board Members and staff who would only be occupying positions and wasting resources while healthcare seekers (patients) are currently driven to the brink of despair on account of the escalating drug prices.

S.N.Kandappa, Wattala

Getting to know much more about Mr. Chanmugam

Reading ‘Impressive impresario’ by Stephen Prins (S/T 21/10) on the life and times of Mano Chanmugam sent me down memory lane to the early 80’s when I worked for him at his Informex Construction Ltd after my premature retirement from the public service. A relative introduced me to him and Mr. Chanmugam hired me as his company’s personnel manager.

Mr. Chanmugam was highly concerned that his office complex was spick and span. In the morning if he found any spot unclean maybe a drain or a table top, he never shouted at anybody but set the example by cleaning it himself! I thought he was somewhat of a stickler for perfection.

His office door was open to both the engineer and the driver alike. He reviewed the work of his subordinates periodically through their immediate superiors and gave generous salary increases where ever deserving.

Although we knew Mr. Chanmugam as a qualified nuclear engineer interested in music and business, his many other attributes and life’s ups and downs as told by Stephen Prins were lively reading for me.

May he live long in the best of health and further all his ambitions.

V.K.Wijeyaratna, Makola

The President’s broken promises to pensioners

We are happy to learn that the President has asked his MPs to honour the promises given to the people. I would most respectfully ask the President whether he has honoured the many promises given to the people.

To state just one example, the President promised to rectify anomalies to pensioners in his “Mahinda Chinthanaya’ before the Presidential Election 2005 and again in the ‘Mahinda Chinthanaya Idiri Dekma’ before the Presidential Elections 2010. On January 14, 2010 he summoned over 6000 pensioners to Temple Trees and personally confirmed this promise. But for seven long years nothing has been done.

These elderly pensioners are in the evening of their lives. Every day someone passes away without receiving what is due to them. Will the powers that be pay their dues in their next birth?

A poor pensioner

Roaming cattle a highway hindrance

Open letter to police chief

As an inconvenienced resident of Wijerama Junction in Nugegoda, I wish to complain about a major highway hindrance caused by a large herd of cattle that roams daily throughout the day in the vicinity of this junction, between Delkanda and Nawinna.

The cattle obstruct traffic on the busy High Level Road; they invade private lanes and gardens, destroying plants and rummaging through the garbage that is put out by the residents for the weekly collection.

This is a menace that should stop immediately. No cattle farmer should be legally permitted to harass the public in this manner. There is no herdsman to be seen. The cattle even walk into gardens at night to take refuge in private property.

I trust the IGP will instruct his officers to handle this problem with immediate effect.

S.K. Perera

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