|Monday, 28 June 2004|
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Certain sections of the anti-government media have tried to make use of the anguish of a little 12-year-old child of a JVP member in order to lambast the JVP. This child gained admission to Rahula College, Matara.
But due to some misunderstanding considering the area rule the matter was brought to light and the little boy for no fault of his, was removed from school by his father, causing him untold anguish.
Rules are rules and the moment this misdemeanour was brought to the notice of Secretary Ministry of Education Dr. Tara de Mel, she immediately had the situation rectified and has called for the explanation of the Director of Education concerned.
Obviously this news item has been planted in order to tarnish the good image of the JVP.
It may be recalled that the UNP has ruined education in this country, resorted to such evil and unethical practices of having parents getting their children admitted to schools through letters given them by notorious criminals such as Soththi Upali and Gonawala Sunil.
We may also recall the fact that President J. R. Jayewardene, in his despicable inhuman cruelty had the applications of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga's son Vimukthi to Royal College, rejected for no rhyme or reason, but for the fact that he was a Bandaranaike. That was typical of the cunning machination of the man who has gone down in history as the "old fox".
As for the JVP member's son's admission to Rahula College, Matara Secretary of the Ministry of Education Dr. Tara de Mel, has taken immediate action and called for the explanation of the Director concerned, who allowed the application.
The so called free media seems to have a very short memory, where thousands and thousands of children with false addresses were admitted to Colombo schools with the authorities turning a blind eye.
And now they have just picked only just one JVP member, for reasons which are obviously politically motivated. That these reasons are asinine, stupid and cause public derision is obvious.
Towards a better train service
Sri Lanka's railways sector is facing a major crisis. Troubled by accidents, riddled with inefficiency and hit by dwindling earnings, the railways seems to be going nowhere. Yet, given the right guidance and proper improvements, it has the potential to become the country's best transport network.
This is precisely what Transport Minister Felix Perera aims to achieve, as evidenced by his recent statements to the media.
The Government has announced that it would do away with the Railways Authority, which was established amid much fanfare by the previous regime. The Authority, reviled by railway workers, proved to be no solution to the ills bedeviling the train service.
Instead, the Government believes that infusing better management techniques and efficiency improvements to the railways would create a more commuter and worker friendly transport service. The Government must address several relevant issues in this quest.
Passenger safety should be a priority. More than 250 derailments and 585 locomotive failures occurred in 2003.
Many of these accidents have been caused as a result of drivers ignoring speed restrictions necessitated by weak sleepers and tracks. More funds will have to be released for replacing these vital components as well as for purchasing more power sets and carriages.
The latter will be needed to meet the rising passenger demand. Some office trains are so crowded that passengers are known to travel even in the toilets, not to mention the footboards - more than 325,000 passengers 'take the train' to and from Colombo daily.
The deployment of additional trains will help reduce congestion and irksome delays. It will also lure more passengers who now use buses and private cars. After all, one does not experience any traffic jams when travelling by train. Cleaner, well-maintained compartments and stations are also a dire need.
The authorities should also explore the possibility of improving cargo operations. In the long term, transporting goods by train is much cheaper as bigger quantities can be accommodated and delivery times can be guaranteed more accurately, especially for perishable cargo.
With expressways coming up for vehicular transport, plans must be formulated for a high-speed train network too. There have been talk of electrification of the rail network for decades, but no concrete steps have been taken.
Faster trains will be able to cut hours off existing journey times to far-flung destinations. Planners must also consider building fast rail links to the two City airports (Bandaranaike International and Ratmalana) and a rapid transit system for Colombo. The railways must start moving rapidly into the future.
Produced by Lake House