As we are all aware there is severe traffic congestion on our city roads. Unfortunately, the limited road space available for legitimate use of traffic and pedestrians has been and is being usurped for illegal and unauthorised purposes causing severe inconvenience to road users.
The main reason for the blatant abuse of road space is official indifference and apathy over the years. The abuse of our road space illegally has now become endemic and is assumed to be a right by the abusers and misusers !
Some of the major abuses of roads are:
(1) The mushrooming of vehicle repair garages and tyre repair shops on numerous city road and lane frontages, extending their operations on to pavements and roads where the repairs are openly carried out.
(2) Car Sales organisations misusing their building frontages on to roads and pavements for parking, display and sale of vehicles.
(3) Blatant, illegal and unauthorised constructions occupying road frontages and pavements without approval from the relevant authorities.
(4) Illegal, semi-permanent constructions set up for selling of sundry goods such as vegetables, fruits, garments etc.
(5) Inconsiderate and selfish parking of vehicles in unauthorised places including pavements, thus obstructing smooth flow of traffic and movement of pedestrians.
(6) Overnight parking of private buses, lorries etc. affecting security, besides obstructing legal road users.
It is a matter for great disappointment that none of the concerned and responsible authorities take action regarding the flagrant misuse of public roads, pavements etc. as mentioned above. It would appear that the officials concerned are indifferent to the violation of Municipal Regulations, rules and bylaws which are not being enforced for reasons best known to them. The blame really has to be accepted by the persons at the helm and all officials whose responsibility it is to enforce the laws of the land.
I would strongly urge and request the Mayors and officials of the Municipal Councils of Colombo, Kotte and Dehiwela/Mount Lavinia to drive round the city and observe the illegal repair, marketing, parking and other obstructional activities that are openly and blatantly taking place, inconveniencing legitimate road users, causing delay, annoyance and unnecessary expense.
As the clearing and eliminating of these illegal activities on public roads is a major problem, I would very strongly suggest that each of the Mayors sets up a Task Force comprising the concerned officials together with officials representing the Traffic Police and the local Area Police in order that this serious situation may be corrected. I would suggest that such a Task Force, study the problem and take remedial action on a priority basis. It is also essential, I suggest, that political interference from any quarter should not be tolerated in this action.
It is only a small percentage of the population who are responsible for these obstructional activities, inconveniencing and harassing over ninety per cent of the law abiding public.
This is a challenge to Your Worships to clean up the "Garden City of Colombo".
I am confident you will all have the courage and strength to rise to the occasion.
This letter is in response to the letter by Dr. FernandoPulle in The Sunday Times of 31-8-97, which I happened to read only now.
While I agree with Dr. Fernando Pulle's contention that an evaluation exam must be conducted for the foreign qualified medical graduates by the Sri Lanka Medical Council before granting internship in Sri Lanka, I totally disagree with his statement "only students who do not qualify to enter Medical Faculties in Sri Lanka go abroad for their studies", which is insulting and hurtful to those qualified students who study abroad.
I am a parent of a student who studies Medicine in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. I think the readers are entitled to know the story of my son as well. I worked in Abu Dhabi, UAE for 14 years continuously where my son studied from his Kindergarten to London GCE (O/L) and passed this exam from there. When my employment contract in Abu Dhabi was terminated I had to return to Sri Lanka in 1992. As my son studied for 12 years in the English medium, I had no alternative than educating him in the same stream which resulted in his following the London GCE (A/L) classes in the Asian International School, Colombo. He passed his London A/L exam in 1995 with 'A' in Physics and Chemistry and a 'B' in Biology.
The University Grants Commission allocates 0.5% of the seats in all the faculties of all the Universities in Sri Lanka for the students with foreign qualifications. I wanted to secure a seat in Medicine for my son through this Scheme and applied to the UGC for the academic years 1995-1996 and 1996-1997 with documents to prove my son's special case. But on both these occasions the learned professors of the UGC were convinced that my son does not deserve a seat in Medicine or any other Course. They refused to look at this matter through a human angle, hid themselves behind the regulations they themselves made and refused entry to him in a Sri Lankan University, point blank, though my son was amply qualified for a Course in Medicine.
By way of my foreign employment I have remitted to this country thousands of dollars in foreign exchange and also eased the unemployment problem in my own small way (my slot in the government service was filled by a fellow Sri Lankan when I went abroad for employment) and in return for that service the doors of free education in Sri Lanka were shut at my son's face! And those doors are permanently open for those who remained in Sri Lanka, being a burden to government coffers!!
To return to Dr. Fernando Pulle's arguments, let me state that we Sri Lankans are in the habit of thinking ourselves big! We live under a false value that our education is superior to all the other systems in the world. If our education system is so, then we must be the most developed country in the world!! But alas, it is not so! Our development is a far cry from that achieved in India and Pakistan, the countries which gained independence along with us, leave alone the rest of the world!! When do we Sri Lankans plan to get out of this myth and look at ourselves in the correct perspective?
What should books teach but the art of living. The ultimate aim of a good education is to make a human being a more capable, dutiful, loving person, not just an empty headed book worm who has no values.
Recently there has been a lot of talk about ragging and the lack of discipline among University students. After all that has happened it is natural to form a bad opinion about University students. But I'm glad to say that for every scoundrel, there is an honest soul living in this world. Everybody is just not the same.
When we entered the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura last year, our hearts were full of fear. But the response of our dear seniors was so different from what we expected that it made us feel really secure and set our hearts at rest. Not only did they give us a warm welcome, but also they always stood by us gently guiding and bearing up with our silly mistakes (for we made many). They never ragged us but patiently corrected us when we went wrong.
As we got to know, they had voluntarily taken up a stand not to rag, as it was not morally suitable to do so for a person learning to heal. I will always respect and honour their wise decision. Though they themselves were severely ragged (not by our own seniors) they were brave and strong enough to take a decision not to rag, in a world where ragging is considered essential. And we too kept the tradition set by them when our juniors arrived in the Faculty. Our Medical students have successfully practised and proved that it is possible to build up a healthy relationship between seniors and juniors without ragging.
Thank you Dear Seniors for being what you have been and showing us the way.
More letters to the editor * Go amongst the people * An inside view of the Indo-Lanka accord
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