|Friday, 19 November 2004|
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Many statements have been made and letters written criticising bus operators, especially the operators of private buses, for the deterioration in the transport service. I am not for a moment denying that a large portion of the blame lies with these operators, who are a law unto themselves, and flout regulations and laws with impunity.
However, bus passengers should also realise that they should share the blame for what is happening.
I am a regular bus traveller, and I have often noticed that those waiting for buses stand away from the bus halt. Especially after the halt has been moved, they stand at the old halting place, and as a result the buses also stop at those places, causing much inconvenience.
Many passengers stop buses between halts, and also try to alight at unauthorised places. This again encourages the bus crew to flout regulations.
A few years ago the CTB introduced the semi-luxury service, and it was stated that there would be no standing passengers (among other things). I happened to travel in a bus where the conductor told a number of prospective passengers that there were no seats.
The passengers forced themselves into the bus saying 'we are regular travellers'. Today we see the semi-luxury service being no different to the normal service except for the fare.
The behaviour of certain passengers in the bus leave much to be desired. Many get in and stay near the entrance. Some use two seats for one person, some keep their luggage on the seats, some smoke.
So let's not blame only the bus operators. Let the passengers also share the blame. Rights of bus passengers are well and good - let us also publicise the duties and responsibilities as well.
I was prompted to write this after reading a letter regarding the services of Moratuwa Divisional Secretariat.
My father retired from the Department of Railways in 1973 after 37 years of dedicated service. He was drawing the pension from Moratuwa Divisional Secretariat and when requested for a form to get the pension anomaly rectified, we were asked to get a letter from General Manager - Railways with his service particulars. I presume all these particulars are at this Secretariat, which sends his monthly pension.
Nevertheless, though he was feeble in health and 89 years, he sent a letter to GMR requesting his service particulars.
Four months have passed and still we haven't heard from the Department of Railways.
In the meantime my father passed away without enjoying a cent from his due arrears, which would have amounted to more than Rs. 50,000. Fortunately his children could afford to look after him, attending to all his needs.
But think of the thousands of helpless pensioners who are in dire need for this money to buy their food and medicine.
A pity that these officers at Pensions and Railway Departments do not realize that they too would get old and become pensioners one day, who might face the same plight.
I appeal to them not to bear the guilt of depriving needy pensioners of their due rights. It should be the duty of the Pensions Department to release these arrears even if the pensioners do not request it. After all, you are withholding what the others earned for the service they rendered to the country.
I hope this letter is an eye-opener to all those officers who turn a blind eye to the appealing pensioners.
The Ceylon Electricity Board has decided to increase the present electricity charges. The Consumers' Association has objected to any increase as the CEB has increased the charges more than 600 per cent during the past few years. Any political party in power should take necessary action to save the consumers and provide power at a reasonable rate.
The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers' Union had decided to take Trade Union Action, not for their salary increase, but for the delay in the implementation of the Upper Kotmale and Norocholai power projects.
They had decided to force the authorities to take immediate action to implement these two projects.
The CEB has decided to build new power houses to provide electricity power to all premises in the Colombo area.
None would object to the implementation of these projects. But who are responsible to provide an unfailing power service to the consumers who have already obtained it? The daily power failure along Kurunegala Road in Katugastota, is an unbearable headache to the consumers. The CEB or the efficient electrical engineer, do not make any attempt to rectify this daily occurrence. Why insist on new projects without attending to existing defective power lines?
A consumer is ignorant how the electricity charge for a month is calculated for the number of units consumed. We have not been provided a rate sheet (like water tariff sheets) by the CEB, to check the amount. This is a practical example. The charge for 87 units consumed was Rs. 389.51. A couple of months later, the charge for 86 units consumed was Rs. 405.97. Charged more for a lesser number of units consumed. The consumer rushed to the Kandy CEB office, forwarded both electricity bills, and asked the officers for an explanation.
They directed the person to the electrical engineer. The engineer calculated the amount in a piece of paper, to explain.
1 to 30 -3.45 ; 31 to 60 - 4.26 ; 61 to 90 - 4.72. The amount was far less. He added another Rs. 34.50 to that amount. The amount calculated mounted to Rs. 389.40; and not the amount that was charged by the meter reader.
He requested the person to contact the meter reader. The name or his number is not entered in the electricity bill. The following month the meter reader refused to explain it. Does the charge for the same number of units consumed vary if the number of days are more or less? Is there any other factor that affects the same number of units consumed as the number of days taken by the meter reader to visit the place ?
The CEB should provide every electricity power consumer a rate sheet, so that they may verify the amount.
May any Electrical Engineer explain why the charges are more for 86 units and less for 87 units when there is no change in the rate charged.
After reading an article on the 'father of Free Education', Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara by Rohan Jayetilleka I was prompted to write this.
I was one of those benefited by Free Education, which enabled me to enter the University of Peradeniya and passed out as a Graduate in 1955.
When I entered the University a good No of undergraduates entered the University from Central Schools established in provincial towns by Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara under the Free Education scheme.
Before the Free Education scheme was introduced majority of the University students came from big schools in Colombo and other provincial capitals. When the Free Education scheme was introduced no student attended any private tuition classes. Myself and my contemporaries never attended any tuition classes. At that time school education was sufficient to prepare ourselves for public examination.
Free Education introduced by Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara today has lost its benefits. Education has become business oriented. Majority of the parents spend hundreds and thousands of rupees on private education from primary to secondary education. Today Free Education has lost its meaning.
It is high time the Ministry of Education take necessary actions to upgrade teaching in schools.
It is only by strengthening the Free Education that we could pay tribute to Dr. C. W. W. Kannangara, the father of Free Education in Sri Lanka.
I. L. M. SHUAIB,
All our politicians should take the full responsibility for the present ethnic conflict of this country.
Now is the time for all the political parties to co-operate by putting their heads together and to find a permanent solution to this burning issue putting country before party politics. We are fed up with hair-split arguments through various media.
Now what the people of this country want is quick action and quick solution to burning issues without much talk.
D. E. ABEYWEERA,
As pointed out by the Mahanayakes of the Malwatte and Asgiriya chapters, the UNP too should participate in the deliberations of the National Advisory Council for Peace and Reconciliation towards promoting peace in the country with unity which is vital at this juncture.
Else, political solutions to any national problem is unstable and unprogressive.
KINGSLEY W. DIAS,
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