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Letters to the Editor

16th March, 1997

Mad world of motorists: a jungle of animals gone haywire

Welcome to our mad world of motorists. Some readers are bothered by flashing headlights which, all over the rest of the world, means a polite, "Please carry on." or "May I...... " but in Sri Lanka, it means, "I am carrying on whatever I am doing, don't you dare cross my path".

Those of us who are used to driving in the Western countries can wait for ages politely flashing our lights, asking to turn into a side road from the main stream, but you can rest assured nobody will allow you through - in spite of the fact a long queue of vehicles is building up behind you and that there is a stagnation of vehicles even in front of those refusing to give way to you. The only way you can survive is to bulldoze your way, sometimes inch by inch to force the opposite flow to stop.

But this is the tiniest of the traffic violations you will come across. This world of Sri Lankan motorists is a jungle of animals. You will find people overtaking you on all sides - People cutting across your path with nary a warning. Vehicles sticking onto the fast lane in spite of those pleading advices on the bill boards. Even when the traffic is moving at snail pace, unless you maintain rear contact with the bumper of the vehicle in front, you will find a host of motor bikes, three wheelers and even the vehicle in the next lane squeezing themselves in-between.

Parking laws are created to be violated. You will find all sorts of parking in no parking areas, on pavements, double parking. What are the police doing? Waiting to pounce on the weak. Once I was copped for parking in a no parking area where there were already two vans parked. When I pointed this out to the traffic officer, he said, "I have only two hands haven't I?" While I was arguing with him, a stern looking man got into one vehicle and drove off just in front of our eyes, with the officer only interested in harassing "a lady in Hijab". The crux of this story is that I was informed later, that he would have let me go, since I am a doctor, if only I had not argued!!! So much for the law in this country for you!

You will be breaking the Traffic Laws several times, because that is the only way to survive in our motor maniacs world. It is a case of survival of the fittest. Until we motorists become courteous, motivated to stop when we see is a wrong happening in front of our eyes and be self-assertive, driving will continue to be a nightmare! Unless you have no deadlines to catch and enjoy listening to radio/cassette while driving, you have paid too much of a price becoming a motorist, for a little mobility. Good Luck!

A lady motorist


Moratuwa needs a face lift badly

The people of Moratuwa have patiently and silently suffered and endured many difficulties, inconveniences and 'lapses' for many years. The main cause for this situation has not only affected the people of Moratuwa but also that of the whole country. The cause has been the Proportional Representation system introduced by politicians with selfish "party first country thereafter" attitude. At present there is no one responsible for the welfare and the needs of a particular area, let it be a parliamentary electorate or an MC or UC ward. All the elected members pass the baby to the other and happily enjoy life with a status symbol tag, drawing money allowances and other perks including tax-free luxury vehicles. The public in the meantime suffer with pot-hold roads, uncleared garbage, mosquitoes, blocked drains etc. It is surprising that the present government has not rectified this detrimental system.

Only the main Colombo-Galle road is maintained properly. All other byroads resemble the moon with large "craters". Once in a blue moon a contractor would fill the "craters" with rubble and vanish. The "craters" would reappear again after a rainfall. Nevertheless all 'members' repair the roads leading to their dwellings.

The latest nuisance is roadside pavement garages. Some enterprising mechanic would rent a room by the roadside and repair vehicles on the pavement and the road. Helpless pedestrians are forced to walk on the middle of the road at the risk of their lives. Most pavements are occupied by vendors or by shops to stack their goods. Soft drink containers stacked on pavements is a common sight. The containers placed on the road opposite the Indibedda bus stand is an inconvenience to the pedestrians and bus crews who find it difficult to turn their buses.

The people of Moratuwa are compelled to go to Panadura or Kalubowila Hospitals for treatment The Lunawa Hospital should be improved, upgraded and managed properly. There should be clinics for different ailments.

Most of the drains, specially in the town are blocked. Refuse rots in the collected water emitting an awful smell. The drains are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

There is no systematic clearing of garbage. Garbage collecting centres, to which hand-carts too dump their lot, are not intelligently situated. The garbage dump that causes the most inconvenience, is the dump situated at the beginning of Uswatta Circular Road near the rail gate. This road, apart from leading to a highly residential area, is used by two girls' schools.

The road is narrow and when vehicles come, school children are forced onto the garbage dump. It is strange that the Principals of the schools have not realized the inconvenience suffered by these students. This garbage dump should be removed immediately.

The best business today is the manufacture of mosquito repellents. While some local authorities are making an honest attempt to eradicate this problem, the Moratuwa UC has been lethargic in their attitude and as a result Filaria is rampant.

All the walls in Moratuwa are disfigured with posters mainly advertising films and tuition classes. During an election it is the politician who is the culprit. There should be a law to prevent it. After the Moratuwa Library was shifted to Katubedda only those who live close to Katubedda are able to visit the Library. Most others have to take two buses each way to visit the Library. It is surprising that this inconvenience, especially that of the students has not entered the minds of Educationists, Principals and Teachers of Moratuwa schools. The Library should be shifted back inside the town limits immediately.

The people of Moratuwa, especially the youth are starved of recreation. The youth are therefore compelled to use public roads to play or else to congregate and chat sometimes to use drugs.

The people of Moratuwa also need some form of entertainment. The vast majority just work, eat and sleep. There should be at least a good park where a family could spend an evening. Although Moratuwa is by the sea, the city has been very unfortunate in not having even a single city councilor educated and imaginative to exploit the sea and the beach for recreation.

There was a safe bathing spot at Uswatta Circular Road where for generations people from around Moratuwa visited to enjoy a dip in the sea. Now an unauthorized wall built on the Coastal Reservation has completely blocked the beach.

The MPs of the Colombo District, especially those who lay a claim to Moratuwa and all UC members should hide their faces in shame at the horrid state of the Bus Stand. There are no shelters and the area is full of pot-holes. The UC should plan and commence a bus service to cater to the large Moratuwa population.

Public toilets should be constructed and maintained well. The one and only toilet in the city which is situated near the bus stand is in a horrible state

M.V.W. de S.,


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