The dark truth of Kandy City: It’s time to light it up I wish to draw the attention of Kandy’s municipal authorities and the Road Development Authority to the lack of proper street lighting along the main roads leading to Kandy city.  The dark or dimly lit roads cause great inconvenience to public, particularly pedestrians. [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Letters to the editor


The dark truth of Kandy City: It’s time to light it up

I wish to draw the attention of Kandy’s municipal authorities and the Road Development Authority to the lack of proper street lighting along the main roads leading to Kandy city.  The dark or dimly lit roads cause great inconvenience to public, particularly pedestrians. How this important aspect of public safety has been neglected for such a long time is beyond belief. As a result only a few people use the streets at night.

Particular mention has to be made about William Gopallawa Mawatha that is being widened and modernized. This road has been in darkness for about a year and the two foot-bridges are death traps at night. Pedestrians depend on the light provided by moving vehicles and risk their lives by crossing the road during the night as the foot-bridges are not used. They should have provided at least temporary lighting during road repairs.

The old Peradeniya-Kandy road is poorly lit with only a few street lamps working. The lamps are cleaned and the fused bulbs not replaced. There is hardly any light provided by these lamps yet the authorities seem oblivious to this fact.

The only street in Kandy that is properly lit and maintained is the Sri Dalada Maligawa Mawatha and even here the streets lamps were not cleaned and the fused bulbs replaced until a few days ago in time for the Dalada Perahera. The state of affairs reflects the apathy of officials to this important need.

The other point I have to make is the state of the Kandy Lake road. The road running round the lake is narrow and was not meant to be used by buses and heavy vehicles travelling in both directions. As the road bordering the Maligawa was closed for security reasons, the road around the lake has become busy and congested.

Walking around the lake which used to be a safe and pleasant experience has become a hazardous and unhealthy exercise considering the amount of exhaust fumes one has to inhale. It is not safe to walk on the pavement during the night as the stones are not evenly placed and missing in few places. If one falls over there is a serious risk of being run over by a passing vehicle. The most obvious fact is the absence of proper street lights. It is dangerous to walk round the lake during the night as undesirable elements in that area roam during the night. Several robberies and chain-snatching incidents have also been reported from the area. As a result, only a few women use the Lake ground.

We see many tourists in Kandy these days going round the lake enjoying the scenery and taking photographs. Since they bring much needed income to city business, they should be provided with better facilities. After all, the Government is spending millions in Colombo to make it attractive to tourists. Why Kandy, the second most important city, is not receiving the same attention is a question that the authorities should an answer.

Kandy’s side streets are narrow and seldom repaired. During the rainy season they are full of pot holes and hazardous not only for pedestrians but also for motorcyclists and three wheeler passengers in the night as there are no street lights in these streets also.
The new mayor seems to be doing some work to improve the city but much has to be done in several fields like proper street lighting and frequent rubbish collection. Dalada Maligawa Mawatha is fairly clean, is swept regularly, pavement vendors who were a nuisance have been removed and the area has been bought to an acceptable standard adding beauty and tranquility to the city. But more work has to be done to make this historical and unique city a great tourist attraction.

As the President visits Kandy frequently there is no doubt that Central Government funds will be available to the city authorities to modernise and elevate it to the levels of certain parts of Colombo. It is long overdue and about time to make a start. Only then will tourists visiting Kandy tell their friends and relatives in their countries what a beautiful city Kandy is and that they must include it in their itinerary. That would be a blessing for the locals, too, who have lived with all the inconveniences for so long.

J. W. Devasiri, Kandy

Advantages of a metro rail system for Colombo

It is quite a hassle to drive your own car in the city traffic. You are in a hurry and getting to your appointment on time is near impossible because of the heavy traffic.

That’s why some people in developed countries opt to ride the subway when going to work or other places because they want a hassle-free experience and just want to arrive at their destination with a smile instead of a frown or a headache.

A few advantages of taking the metro railway are:

  • Cheap – Money saving because the cost of ticket for riding the metro is definitely lower compared to gas, car maintenance and amortisation/insurance of your car.
  • Environment-friendly – Less traffic on the streets and your share in saving the earth from pollution emitted from your vehicle.
  • Convenience – You can reach your destination on time and without any problems with traffic which as I see it, are some wonderful advantages of public transportation.

Some others are as follows:

  1. Reliability: Since rail rides are on schedules, as long as you plan correctly, you should be able to get to your destination on time. Additionally, since there is no traffic on a rail line, you are not affected by how many other people are travelling in the same direction as you.
  2. Ease and comfort: Since you do not have to drive yourself, you are able to complete other activities while riding a train. This includes taking care of other business or homework, or even catching up on sleep.
  3. Environmental concerns: Cutting down on individual waste helps do wonders for the environment. The sheer number of people who take the same trains decreases the amount of pollution each individual is creating at one time. Great for minimising an individual’s carbon footprint.
  4. Cost: As fuel prices continue to increase, the cost of taking a train is a fraction of what you would spend on your own to drive everywhere.
  5. Community: Riding the rail may help you create friendships with otherwise strangers. If you take the same train every day from the same station, you get to know the people around you. It fosters new friendships. Also, more people can travel together in a train than in a vehicle.

Peter Barbut

Some handy bulb hints

The normal CFL bulbs which are not designed for outdoor use can be made weatherproof by cutting off the top half of a colourless empty bantam soft drink bottle and passing the bulb through this as a lamp shade when fixing on to the holder.

We can also protect the outdoor switch from rain by mounting it inside an empty ice-cream box with the supply wires being connected through holes in the bottom.

Upul Wijesuriya, Thalangama

Our ‘parked’ traffic policemen should be made mobile 

On most major roads in Sri Lanka, traffic police personnel are seen “parked” at particular points and you hardly see any mobile patrols, nowadays. For example, as a regular motorist on the A6 highway (Ambepussa to Kurunegala), I know the exact points at which the traffic police personnel are likely to be present and may be the other regular motorists on this highway too are aware of the same.

These points are always close to double or single white lines on the median of the road, or on stretches where motorists tend to speed, and the traffic policeman flags down the errant motorists for crossing the lines, overtaking or sometimes for high speed.

Once you pass one of these spots you can rest assured that there won’t be any traffic police till you reach the next spot, where the traffic police are most likely to be present. Hence, the motorist who knows this set-up, tends to drive in a care-free manner, possibly ignoring many traffic rules, till he closes in on the next spot.

Rather than adopting the above strategy of being confined to particular spots on the highway, I feel it would be more prudent for the traffic police to also actually patrol the highway by motorcycle or car at least at intervals and I am sure that they will be able to apprehend more errant motorists and reduce the accident rates.

Of course, such an exercise will entail an additional cost of vehicular travel for the traffic police, but this would be more than offset by the benefits that will accrue to the nation. For example, by following a line of vehicles or even a single vehicle, for some distance on a highway, a sharp traffic policeman will be able to detect, a vehicle’s un-roadworthiness, non-functioning brake lights and other lights, the frequent overtaking from the left side (and then cutting to the right) by mostly motorcycles/three wheelers, excessive smoke emission and many other traffic offences which he would miss, had he been stationary. I hope this letter will catch the eyes of the authorities, who could favourably consider the suggestion made with good intentions.

A.Bedgar Perera, Imbulgasdeniya

Urban landscaping with root balled trees – Is it a greenwash ?

Any national level project focusing on environmental improvements through tree plantation should be based on increasing the total tree cover of the country rather than shifting trees from one place to another as practised in root balling. This process also damages the environment of the original location by disturbing other plants around it.

In my view the plants which are grown in nurseries should be promoted for national level projects. It is a matter of maintaining those plants for some time until they grow to a safe height beyond which they are self-sustaining. Also root-balled trees are expensive when compared to the maintenance cost of a small plant to achieve the same height.

The survival rate of root balled trees are also very low. I think this fact should be taken into consideration in planning tree plantation work in urban development programmes which are now in progress in Colombo City. Otherwise it could be a greenwash similar to political whitewash.

Nalaka Attanayake, Monaragala

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