Act on President’s concern about LG machinery The President expressing his concern has said that the present increase in the number of ward members should be brought down by half  to 4,000 members. No doubt, the current imbroglio aggravated by horse-trading  pervading the Local Government (LG) elections and selections would have spurred him to make [...]


Letters to the Editor


Act on President’s concern about LG machinery

The President expressing his concern has said that the present increase in the number of ward members should be brought down by half  to 4,000 members. No doubt, the current imbroglio aggravated by horse-trading  pervading the Local Government (LG) elections and selections would have spurred him to make this proposal. He has realized that increasing the number of ward members would add to bribery and corruption and that merely expanding the political fraternity at exorbitantly high cost will not improve the productivity of the LG machinery.

His proposal anyway will have to wait for the next LG polls. However, from the day this huge increase in the number of ward members was disclosed to the public, we as citizens and tax payers expressed our grave concern through the media about its adverse consequences to no avail to the authorities. Now the result as we can see is more and more chaos, bribery, corruption and horse-trading leading to additional burdens to the taxpayer with a negative return on investment! May be the President also wanted to ensure that the additional income to be derived from the new tax system is spent on productive programmes and debt repayment.

However, taking the cue from the President’s conviction, we exhort that a paradigm shift in our hugely unproductive political and public service cultures should  commence immediately to ameliorate the imminent damage that can be caused by the new set of local politicians exceeding 8,500 in number. Towards this end, proper systems and procedures will have to be introduced to prevent potential bribery and corruption acts by these politicians.We have repeatedly stressed that the real remedy lies in objectively improving the services offered by the Grama Niladharis, Divisional Secretaries,  Local councils, Police and the Judiciary which directly relate to the needs and problems of people at ward level.

This can be achieved by motivating and increasing the productivity of all Govt.  and Local Govt.servants through customer service oriented training and target setting mechanisms linked to incentive schemes. The new cadre of politicians should be deployed to identify and meet the development needs arising at local level in collaboration with the Grama Niladharis and the Divisional Secretaries. In this context, the job description of  Grama Niladharis too demands revision. We also must remember that the local Govt. machinery ran for more than two years sans its political counterparts without much hiccups and the Govt. must have saved a tidy sum in the process!

With the realization of this cultural change, this layer of local politicians becomes redundant. Now that smaller wards have been demarcated by the latest delimitation exercise, if still necessary the savings can be utilized to introduce a system akin to ‘Gam Sabha’ method with wards being represented by an elected cadre of independent, acceptable and respectable development facilitators who meet the eligibility criteria set by the Elections Commission which will hold the elections.

At the same time, more role responsibilities should be accorded to the Provincial Council system to make the ‘white elephant’ produce results. The need of the hour is improving the decentralized public service and not increasing the numbers in the unproductive, high cost political machinery which churns out false ‘DemiGods’ to the people! The resulting direct and indirect savings also could be ploughed back to improve the lot of the people at grassroot level.

Bernard Fernando  Moratuwa

Bus drivers have no horn manners!

The bus horn is the most offending noise polluter on our roads. Modern buses have very loud horns and 90% of the time, bus drivers toot the horn to get the bus already parked in the bus stand to make way, to get the attention of people at the bus halt or to get other vehicles on the road to move out of the way. It is rarely used to signal danger to pedestrians or other drivers.

Usually the driver starts tooting the horn repeatedly, about 50 metres before reaching the bus halt, to get the attention of the passengers, thus disturbing the whole neighbourhood.

I suggest to the Ministry of Transport to remove the factory-fitted air horns and replace them with low-volume normal horns, because the bus drivers give little thought to others when blaring their horns. They do not have horn manners.

 Rukshan De Zoysa  Via email

Who cries for the poor villagers affected by human/elephant conflict?

On and off, we hear the disturbing news about the continuing human/elephant conflict. That an elephant has killed a human or a human has killed an elephant. We also hear the sad news, almost on a daily basis of how wild elephants go around destroying houses, paddy fields, other crops belonging to poor villagers and farmers. Similarly we hear of humans killing elephants either by shooting them, or poisoning, or using a cruel method known as ‘Hakka Patas’ – a crude small bomb using a bait which blows off the elephant’s mouth when it bites into it.

In this ongoing, never ending conflict, (I say never ending as no government is doing anything to stop it), I believe, from what is reported that humans are more affected than elephants.

The people affected are poor farmers and villagers. They build a house with much difficulty from the limited financial resources they have. These houses are completely broken or damaged. They cultivate paddy or other crops by getting loans from banks or other borrowings. Their livelihood depends on these crops, but alas, overnight these all are destroyed by wild elephants. Coconut trees just beginning to bloom are felled. How long will it take for the farmer to plant another tree?

Most villagers live in fear. Some have to sleep on makeshift houses made on top of trees. The children cannot go to school. Before dusk they have to get into their houses and do not dare venture out in the night even if someone needs medical attention.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel for these villagers. Authorities cannot find a solution for this problem. No entrepreneurs, no organisations, no human right defenders or societies seem to come forward to help these poor people or to talk on their behalf.

But when an elephant is killed or injured numerous individuals, societies, animal rights groups and even members of the clergy are concerned.

Do we think that elephants are more important than humans?

Bertie Joseph  Hendala – Wattala

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