Nation in a hurry: The travails of driving here Increasingly driving on our roads has become a seriously life-threatening experience. The roads have virtually become a playground for ill-disciplined, inconsiderate and inhuman human beings who are a disgrace to civilized society. We as a nation have  fallen to the doldrums of indecency and intolerance when [...]


Letters to the Editor


Nation in a hurry: The travails of driving here

Increasingly driving on our roads has become a seriously life-threatening experience. The roads have virtually become a playground for ill-disciplined, inconsiderate and inhuman human beings who are a disgrace to civilized society. We as a nation have  fallen to the doldrums of indecency and intolerance when driving.

Everyone sans a few decent individuals will constantly and blatantly violate the traffic rules and regulations. We have forgotten courtesies and respect for others and “the right of way” has become a thing of the past. For 3 wheel drivers, bus drivers, tipper drivers, motor cyclists and a majority of drivers who drive anything from a Maruti to a Hummer, the road is their playground. There are no rules applicable to them. They follow their own sets of rules that would take them to their respective destinations immaterial of what happens in between.

It is obvious that the  nation therefore has inculcated a culture of “impatience and intolerance” not to mention gross indecency throwing aside the great virtue of “live and let live”. This is prevalent everywhere. A small Vitz (or a Nano) will follow you with headlights flashing and trafficators ablaze whilst tailgating you only to swish right into the gap of a few inches in front of your vehicle where he (sometimes a she) will endeavour to prevent you from overtaking him along the way.

White lines marked on the road are completely ignored and drivers create a third “illegal” lane of traffic virtually restricting on-coming vehicles on their rightful path.

The motorcyclists will swarm (like mosquitoes) all over the road from the rear, left and right and will also cut across you in front  and go through improbable gaps in the vehicle lanes.

The three-wheel drivers have a code of conduct of their own which is despicable and unacceptable at the same time.

The tipper drivers driving these behemoths manoeuvre through traffic as if they are driving tiny matchbox toys and have been involved in many a crash and fatal accident. It is a regular spectacle to see them talking on their mobile phones whilst driving with one hand!

No one sticks to the lanes anymore. It is not uncommon to see certain drivers driving their vehicles centered to the line on the lane thereby blocking both lanes.

When changing lanes, most Sri Lankans do not use trafficators. They probably feel it is shameful to indicate your intentions when driving.

It is also quite common to see people driving with only one hand.

Hundreds of drivers do use their mobile phones whilst driving and this is a very common spectacle.

Young parents….especially in small cars often can be seen driving with kids on their laps….sometimes on the lap of the driver him/herself!

Then…we often see the rear windshield completely covered with soft toys which is downright dangerous.

To compound matters vehicles belonging to the armed forces too follow their own rules as if the public needs to be subservient to them and thereby they do not have to obey normal traffic laws. Unfortunately, some of these drivers drive with such impunity even when the senior officer is inside the vehicle. (Over to you service commanders)

I have only put down some of my observations in writing. Perhaps we can think of many more such acts. It is not an exaggeration to say that the situation has aggravated phenomenally and immediate action is required by the authorities before matters would be beyond repair. The past few years had seen many roadside deaths and serious accidents.

A few recommendations:

1.   Police to introduce a system of forfeiting driving licences for 1 to 6 months depending on the violation “on the spot” along with a hefty fine.

2.   Ensure strict adherence to lane driving. (This was recently introduced but given up after a few days!)

3.   Motorcyclists and three-wheelers to be restricted to a narrow lane in designated (high traffic) zones and where there are no such lanes these vehicles to be instructed to be driven on the left lane only.

4.   Tipper drivers to be restricted on the roads during specific hours in Colombo district avoiding rush hour traffic. Licences to be forfeited if road rules are violated since these are the biggest traffic offenders and a law unto themselves.

5.   Spot fines to be implemented for drivers using mobile phones whilst driving.

6.   All three-wheel drivers to be re-registered after a compulsory 2 hour class conducted by the Police. A compulsory video in Sinhala and Tamil to be created showing traffic violations by three- wheelers and serious /fatal accidents involving three wheelers. This needs to be made compulsory and can be done district-wise. Once re-registered, and a document issued with each driver getting a driver’s number, a simple khaki or yellow coloured  vest with the registered number can be issued similar to what Thailand has done. This is worn over the shirt.

7.   Introduce a new law barring little children riding in front seats of vehicles and prohibit covering of rear windshield with soft toys and other equipment.

Over to you authorities!

Rohan Jayasinghe  Malabe

Are the ministers a law unto themselves?

In recent months there have been a number of instances, where our ministers have simply shot their mouths off or acted in the most undignified manner or not discharged their responsibilities causing massive losses to this country, bringing the government to disrepute and seriously undermining the principles and policies of good governance; which we were made to believe are the foundation on which this government has been established.

Take the case of the minister whose shocking outburst as to how he was going to deal with his party’s opponents in the forthcoming elections was widely reported in all media.

What about our Sports Minister ordering our cricketers who had already emplaned to proceed to India, out of the aircraft?  He may have his problems with those who are responsible for administering this sport in this country but can he be allowed to humiliate our national cricketers  in this manner? He obviously doesn’t know the fundamentals  of good management.

What about our Agriculture Minister? The building rented out for five years by the Ministry nearly three years ago is still vacant. The rent is Rs.21 Mn a month and two years rent amounting to Rs. 504 Mn has been paid in advance. The third year’s rent has also probably been. The building remains unoccupied. Surely ‘heads must roll’ for this kind of neglect and waste.

What about the fertilizer shortage? There can be no excuses.

Let’s not talk of the former Finance Minister? The Bond Commission report is just out. What ordinary people saw as a bribe, our Mr. Clean PM did not see, or refused to see. Of course he is not a minister now but was regularly seen with the PM at UNP functions.

Can these ministers speak and act in this manner? If and when they do, they must be dealt with by the President or the Prime Minister, and the people must know that they have been ‘pulled up’. Some must be asked to step down. The President and PM ignore such acts only at the cost of people losing faith in this government and the promises it gave the people.

Eksith Fernando  Dehiwela

Rein in this  ‘unholy’ mess

 Ever since this Government came to power strikes, protests, road blocks, work to rule and fast-unto-death campaigns etc. seem to be part and parcel of everyday life.

 Ironically the GMOA whose members are the best paid public officers with numerous perks, facilities and allowances spearhead many campaigns. The problem for which the trade unions are striking existed well before the present administration took over the reins.

The GMOA is flexing its muscle again over the same SAITM issue and extra allowances.

There is no law and order in the country. Even court orders are flouted to the hilt. The Government should act fast and put an end to these unholy trends. Sooner the better.

K. J. Silva  Matale

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