A viable alternative for railway gates With an increasing number of accidents and deaths at unprotected railway crossings in the country being reported, the focus is now on how to find a solution. It is said that it would cost around Rs. 4.5 million to instal one electronic rail gate and that the cost would [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Letters to the Editor


A viable alternative for railway gates

With an increasing number of accidents and deaths at unprotected railway crossings in the country being reported, the focus is now on how to find a solution.

It is said that it would cost around Rs. 4.5 million to instal one electronic rail gate and that the cost would be enormous to instal around 775 such rail gates. These electronic gates entail high maintenance costs and in addition are prone to breakdowns due to rainy weather.

As a viable low-cost alternative to this high cost problem, I suggest that concrete speed-breakers (humps) be built at a safe distance (10 to 15 metres) ahead of each crossing on both sides. To warn the vehicle drivers adequately, a luminous danger signal should be painted in red on the hump so that it would be visible even during the night.

The resulting slow-down of the vehicles will enable the motorists to exercise caution when crossing the railway track. As we have seen, all the recent accidents were due to unhindered access through the railway crossings. To make this preventive measure more effective I would suggest the following additional steps.

1) Display the usual traffic signal used to indicate a railway crossing in a more prominent manner to attract the attention of motorists.
2) Clear the vicinity of the railway crossings of trees and shrubs so that an approaching train could be seen
3) Instruct engine drivers to toot the horns to attract the attention of those passing the railway track at any railway crossing.
With so much money being spent on carpeted and concrete roads, I am confident that the authorities will not face budgetary constraints to instal these low-cost, speed-breakers and prevent accidents and deaths.

Bernard Fernando

Uniform for lady doctors

When I was a student in 1943, I had seen doctors on duty wearing a white coat over their normal duty clothes. It indicated the profession and the responsibility of a doctor.

Today we can see that female doctors report for duty in different attire, some in jeans, some in short skirts, some in long skirts and some in slacks, just like patients and visitors.

The other hospital employees, from the cleaners to the hospital matron, report for duty in their respective uniforms to indicate their role and responsibilities.

The attire of our female doctors in hospitals while on duty should indicate their profession and responsibilities.

D. Sivarajah

A little salt can go a long way
to keep dengue at bay

Here’s a simple method of introducing salt water with a little disinfectant on to the gutters to prevent mosquito breeding!

Take a medium size plastic bottle and tie the neck of the bottle to a long pole which can reach the gutters. Take a long string and tie one end to the bottom of the bottle taking it along the pole to your hand. Introduce the preventive solution to the bottle. Take the pole up to the gutters and slowly pull the long rope attached to the bottom of the bottle. The bottle will turn slowly spilling the liquid on to the gutter.

From balconies a smaller pole can be used but should be bent to make certain that the liquid falls on to the gutters.

Concerned resident
Colombo 5

A/L admission: Problem persists as ministry refuses to amend circular

It appears that the Education Ministry is continuing with its blunder regarding admission of students to national schools to follow the GCE Advanced Level.

A Ministry circular issued in April this year barred students of 1AB grade schools from seeking admission to national schools. When parents and teacher unions appealed against this order, the President, the Minister and the Ministry Secretary said the national schools would be allowed to take students from 1AB schools provided that they have excellent results (nine ‘A’s in O/L).

Although wide publicity was given to this decision in the media, the Secretary says no amendment will be made to the earlier circular. As a result heads of schools are not willing to admit qualified students because the circular says that principals who go against the circular would be punished.

Now what should the students do? Go to courts?

B.S. Perera

Clean way to kill the deadly insect

Mosquitoes prefer dirt and water unclean,
And usually avoid places neat and clean.

Let’s get rid of this menace fast and quick,
‘Cos this deadlier insect makes us sick

Erratic weather with downpour and sweltering sun,
Provide ideal breeding ground numero one,
Unless we destroy ‘em fast and soon,
Undoubtedly we’ll meet our final doom.

Let’s remove dirt and breeding grounds,
Clean our household garden and areas around,
For mosquitoes, keep our environs, out of bound
It’s crunch time and no time to faff around.

S.G. Ratnayake

Cattle slaughter: Some food for thought

Understandably, over the years, there has been a clamour by many Buddhists for the banning of the slaughter of cattle.
What is difficult to understand is that there has never been an appeal to fellow Buddhists to refrain from eating beef. In a predominantly Buddhist country, where presumably the majority of beef eaters are Buddhists, such a sacrifice on their part, should surely reduce the sacrifice of cattle by at least 75%, without resort to drastic and tragic measures such as self-immolation.
In same measure, giving up of eating chicken would greatly reduce the killing of fowl.

The Buddha’s exhortation to us Buddhists was to refrain from the taking of all forms of life — fish, flesh and fowl.

I, now an octogenarian, am in no position to honestly join the appeal I refer to, since from childhood I have been consuming fish, flesh and fowl. I have never excused myself on the grounds that I had not been responsible for any killing, overlooking the fact that I, as a consumer had contributed to the demand and therefore to the supply which necessitated the killing. A fall in demand would automatically lead to a drop in supply and thus a drastic reduction in the taking of life.

Often fish and less often chicken are served to priests at alms-givings and they are vinaya-bound to eat anything served to them. But, that does not prevent the well-meaning dayakayas from refraining from serving these items.

While many a Buddhist consumes fish without a qualm, a fish, dying, gasping for breath, cannot be considered a humane method of extinction of life.

These are merely an expression of my thoughts on this matter and not an appeal to fellow Buddhists. I am not qualified to do so, as in my eating habits, regrettably, I am not a follower of the Word of the Buddha.

Dr. Mark Amerasinghe


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