It has been reported that steps are being taken to reactivate the Sri
Lanka Transport Board. This is good news for the harassed commuters. But
will history repeat itself? When the buses were taken over from the
private owners in 1957, the question was raised as to what they would do
with all the money that would come in and it was reported that this vast
sum of money would be utilised for building roads, bridges, tanks,
irrigation systems and all public works beneficial to the country and
But what really happened? Politics entered the CTB and each political
party that was in power planted their men in the CTB. They created all
manner of positions like 'point Controllers' for example, to plant their
men. CTB became the employment agency for the different political
parties that enjoyed power at different times. Around 1968, it was said
that they had something like 35 persons per bus employed by the C.T.B. I
guess the CTB owned a total fleet of about 5,000 buses.
The information was that the CTB was unable to contribute even Five
Rupees to the Treasury. But the Treasury had to give loans to the CTB
from time to time.
In the U.S.A., U.K and other developed countries the passenger buses
have only a driver and no conductor and in nearby Thailand the bus
drivers are disciplined persons in coat and tie and the bus conductors
are mostly girls. The bus fare is 1.50 Baht to go from one halt to the
next halt or to go another 20 or more miles the fare is the same. They
do not overload the buses unreasonably.
Schoolchildren have separate buses.
Air conditioned buses do not charge excessive fares.
There are several Public Corporations in Singapore. There are no
political appointments, in any of them. These Corporations are known to
be among the best in the world. They select a person into a Public
Corporation only for his efficiency and competency and not for any
The post Independence performance in Sri Lanka has been quite sad.
There was a time when Sri Lanka was above many other Asian countries.
Now it is officially accepted that we are at the bottom.
We need to admit that this bad performance was entirely due to our
habit of mixing politics with everything else. Public Service and Public
Corporations should maintain high efficiency and good service and not
give into politics and become political agencies.
It is important to bear in mind that in the Democratic system the
political parties are a means to an end and not the end itself.
We do hope the authorities that would guide the SLTB would be able to
stand up to these well accepted standards.
L. M. Samarasinghe
The travelling public will no doubt appreciate the firm and competent
manner in which the authorities handled the recent aborted strike by
Railway Locomotive Operators, just only one month after a unique
performance against the mafia type private bus operators.
In this instance, when the Minister explained that their demands, if
granted immediately would cause a chain reaction of disparities in the
salary structures in the entire department, the strikers lacked a sense
of responsibility, in their failure to postpone the strike. On this
account, they fully deserve some meager punishment.
History records that SLFP led left oriented Governments have acted
consistently in sympathy with the working class unlike others who sent
home thousands of workers by not granting an insignificant demand.
It is considered necessary to formulate an action plan in every
establishment in the State sector in order to successfully face a
contingency a rising from an irresponsible action on the part of a
We also need hardly stress the necessity for a management to maintain
a continuous rapport especially with an aggrieved party, with a view to
resolving their grievances before they resort to trade union action.
G. G. J.,
When Justice Sarath Ambepitiya was brutally murdered, the whole
country acted as if the Gallows will be made use within a couple of
Government was hunting for hangmen while others were hunting for
ropes as the ropes of the present Gallows are decayed.
Are these ropes still not found or has tenders being called for
ropes? Lakshman Kadirgamar was the latest target and Sri Lanka will
never get a statesman of this calibre.
Delaying in executing, delay in court work is the only encouragement
to the underworld.
The underworld within the prisons is more powerful than those living
H. G. P. Jayasekera,
Claude Fernando wonders about use of feminine names to identify
Hurricanes (DN October 3). The recent devastation caused by Katrina and
Rita probably has given the wrong notion that only feminine names are
Category V Hurricanes have wind speeds of over 250km/hour. Katrina
generated highest speed of 280km/hour. The strongest wind speed of
320km/hour was recorded by the Labour Day Hurricane of 1935.
It was an Australian forecaster who first used names of unpopular and
corrupt politicians to identify storms (Sri Lanka can provide an
unending list of names). Then during the Second World War US Army Air
Corps and Navy Meteorologists used names of their wives and girlfriends
to name storms. Then in 1950-52 North Atlantic storms were named
according to phonetic alphabet.
In 1953 for the first time US Weather Bureau commenced the use of
Then the feminist movement in the sixties and seventies protested
against this practice. In 1979 the World Meteorological Organisation and
US National Weather Service started using masculine and feminine names
alternatively. Names are selected by the countries in a given region
well in advance.
Usually for a period of five years. The first Atlantic storm of 2005
was Arlene and the last will be Wilma.
After Katrina there were Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philipe and RITA.
List continues after Rita - Stan, Tamy, Vince and Wilma. Year 2006
list will be from Alberto to William. If the names run out the Greek
alphabet will be used.
If any storm is violent and causes extensive damage, the name is
retired from the list forever. Among such names retired are Camille
(1969), Allen (1980), Gilbert (1988), Hugo (1989) and Andrew (1992).
Katrina will of course be retired from the list.
Asian region typhoons are named after flowers, animals, birds, trees
etc. Typhoon Damrey (elephant in Khmer language) and Longwang (Dragon
King in Chinese) wreaked havoc in the last few weeks.
J. K. Wijedasa