A Times Online investigation has revealed that many government hotlines and non-emergency shortcodes are not functional. The study of more than 65 four-digit shortcodes and five other government hotlines showed that many were not functional, with lines being cut due to ‘No answer’ or ‘lack of connection’. On some lines, the waiting time was more than [...]


Govt. hotlines in cold storage: Times Online reveals 70 non-functional shortcodes


Times Online investigation has revealed that many government hotlines and non-emergency shortcodes are not functional.

The study of more than 65 four-digit shortcodes and five other government hotlines showed that many were not functional, with lines being cut due to ‘No answer’ or ‘lack of connection’. On some lines, the waiting time was more than 10 minutes.

Accordingly, 40 percent of the 65 hotlines went unanswered.

In the 75 numbers surveyed, 11 phone numbers did not connect, six automatically informed the caller that agents would not be able to respond, three were busy during multiple attempts, and nine had a wait time of over 10 minutes.

Non-functional numbers covering critical areas included anti-human trafficking, Sri Lankans seeking assistance related to the situation in the Middle East, tourist information, the Welfare Benefits Board, complaints on official language policy, the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board, and the Human
Rights Commission.

Officials at the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) said they monitor traffic to 3-4-digit shortcodes each year and, if they are underutilised, request a justification from the relevant body. “Some phone numbers might not be working if they haven’t paid the phone bill,” said one official.

To obtain a 19XX shortcode, many of which were non-functional, a state institution must fill out an application form and pay Rs. 600,000 a year.


Brutal attack on 4-year-old child: Angry Tiran springs into action

Public Security Minister Tiran Alles was engaged in a discussion with some journalists at his ministry when he received a call.

Those present were instantly alerted to the complete change in his manner. The minister then switched to WhatsApp to watch a video that the caller had just sent him, and the video made him visibly furious. It was the now-infamous video clip showing a man brutally assaulting a four-year-old child. The minister had been informed by the caller that the incident had taken place in Welioya.

Mr. Alles showed the video to the journalists who were present. He then contacted the Inspector General of Police and the Commandant of the Special Task Force and ordered them to immediately arrest the culprit. Though the suspect had fled the area, police were also able to arrest him, along with two women who aided and abetted the crime, within 24 hours.

Canada’s envoy hears pleas to set up consular office during Jaffna visit

As part of their routine visit to the Northern Province, Canadian High Commissioner Eric Walsh met religious leaders and civil society representatives in Jaffna this week.

A collective request was made to the visiting High Commissioner by the religious leaders: set up a Canadian diplomatic post in the province.

When he met with representatives of a Hindu religious organisation known as ‘Nallai Artheenam’ led by Srilasri Somasundara Gnanasambhantha Paramacharya Swamigal on Friday, a Hindu priest explained the need for a consular office given the significant number of Sri Lankan-origin people in Canada with family roots in the Northern Province.

Such an office, the priest said, would help visiting Sri Lankan Canadians strengthen the links between the two countries and would attract investment to the region as well. As usual, the diplomat offered a ‘diplomatic’ response, promising to take up the matter at the highest level soon.


Children had a narrow escape as the police jeep crashed into the Montessori premises

Beer bottle in police jeep that crashed into Montessori

At a montessori in Vavuniya, children had a lucky escape this week when a police jeep crashed into their premises.

More than 40 children were at the Montessori at the time of the accident, which resulted in significant damage to the police jeep and a section of the premises.

The accident is currently being investigated. A medical examination of the police driver revealed he was not under the influence of liquor. However, Police Headquarters noted that the presence of a beer bottle inside the crashed jeep has raised eyebrows, and further inquiries are ongoing.


Meeting cancellation prompts SLPP to start flood relief work

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) is holding its electoral meetings throughout the country these days.

A meeting was due to be held in Biyagama last Sunday, but the torrential rains that started falling in the early hours that morning forced its cancellation. Biyagama itself experienced widespread flooding. SLPP National Organiser Namal Rajapaksa, who was due to chair the meeting, released Rs. 1 million from the party’s funds to assist the flood-affected Biyagama people.

Mr. Rajapaksa also instructed the party’s electoral organisers to assist the people in their electorates who had been impacted by the adverse weather. Many electoral organisers subsequently shared with the MP on WhatsApp the images of the assistance the party was giving to the flood victims.


Sabry’s googly: New law to end Lanka’s cricket woes!!

The Sri Lankan team’s dismal showing at the ongoing T20 World Cup in the US and the Caribbean continued yesterday with a two-wicket defeat to Bangladesh in what was essentially a ‘must-win’ game.

Soon after the defeat, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, who is also the Chairman of the Cabinet sub-committee appointed to resolve issues within Sri Lanka Cricket, took to his X account to air his views.

Titled “The Current State of Sri Lanka Cricket,” the minister stated that “the recent disappointments in the ICC World Cup 2023 and ICC T20 are not isolated incidents. They are stark indicators of the deep-rooted problems within our cricketing infrastructure. These issues cannot be resolved with temporary fixes. What we need is a bold, professional approach that frees our cricket from the control of those who have turned it into a personal enterprise.”

The minister further added that, as the chairman of the cabinet subcommittee appointed to examine the state of the country’s cricket, he can attest to the pressing need for reform. “Our report lays out a clear path forward, and we are now on the brink of implementing these crucial changes through new legislation. This is a decisive moment for Sri Lankan cricket,” he said.

“We must seize this opportunity and get the reforms enacted with a new sports law and constitution for Sri Lanka Cricket. Cricket in Sri Lanka is not just a game or a business; it is a reflection of our national spirit. Our success should not be measured by financial metrics but by the victories we achieve on the field and the hope we inspire in our people. Currently, our performance is far from acceptable, and the time for change is now,” Minister Sabry stressed.

Jeevan: Hero-like entry; comedian-like retreat

Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Development Minister Jeevan Thondaman’s attempts to act like Tamil movie star Dhanush by hiding behind the power of his bodyguards ended in public and private humiliation.

Earlier, his supporters, led by Mr. Thondaman himself, as the General Secretary of the Ceylon Workers’ Congress, stormed a tea factory of a leading plantation company and took its senior management hostage after the company refused to reinstate some workers it had suspended following a protest.

The following day, the minister and his supporters laid siege to the Nuwara Eliya Police in protest over the police recording a complaint from the plantation company regarding the incident.

When word reached Public Security Minister Tiran Alles, he instructed Mr. Thondaman’s security officers, who were from the Ministerial Security Division (MSD), to remove him from the location. However, the MSD officers replied that they had no control over the minister and that he was refusing to heed their advice.

Accordingly, Minister Alles ordered the MSD officers to withdraw. This obviously had a clear effect in deflating the ego of the hotheaded young politico, who ended up looking more like the comic relief in Tamil films than the hero. It is learned that Mr. Thondaman subsequently called the Public Security Minister to apologise.

Child Affairs State Minister slams NCPA police unit

Women and Child Affairs State Minister Geetha Kumarasinghe had some extremely harsh words for the police unit of the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) when she spoke to the media about the viral video showing a man brutally assaulting a child in Welioya.

Ms. Kumarasinghe praised the conduct of the police, whose quick action resulted in the arrest of the suspects within 24 hours of the video going viral. However, she was less than complimentary about the response of the NCPA’s police unit, which is supposed to be dedicated to investigating such incidents.

“I called the NCPA’s police unit till midnight but received no response. I called senior officers, including female senior DIGs. One woke up this morning and called me back, but I was not able to get anything from them yesterday,” said the state minister.

She also thanked social media users and the mainstream media, noting that if it were not for them, no one would even know about the incident. She urged the public to video any such incidents and release them on social media so that they would draw widespread attention and lead to the arrest of the culprits.

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