VET: Rein in the corrupt
Once again we see a move
designed by the Government in the interest of the public coming
unstuck due to the cancer of corruption. Time and again various
Governments have come up with plans to secure benefits to the
public only to have them put on the backburner due to the lack
of the political will or political compulsions.
A good example of this is the Norachcholai coal power
project. All Governments until now dilly dallied with the
project due to various pressures with the result that the CEB is
now paying astronomical sums to purchase electricity with the
public having to take the tab.
Thankfully, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had the courage to go
ahead with the project which is now nearing completion, shoving
aside the political fall out, thinking first of the country.
In the same way, this Government should be commended for
taking firm measures to combat air pollution by motor vehicles
when only feeble attempts were made in this regard in the past.
There was also the well-known case of Smoke Meters being
imported for the purpose under the UNP administration. No one
yet knows what became of these gadgets.
Be that as it may, now even this vehicle emission testing
(VET) scheme introduced by the Government making it compulsory
for vehicles to obtain an anti-pollution clearance certificate
appears to have run into a snag due to sleight of hand
Our front page story yesterday revealed how efforts to stop
noxious vehicle emissions from entering the environment is being
undermined by corrupt elements at the ‘testing centres.
According to the story, bogus certificates are being issued
giving a clean bill of health to vehicles which have to undergo
a vehicle emission test for renewal of licences.
Environment Minister Champika Ranawaka has warned of stern
action against those trying to scuttle the scheme to rid the
cities of environment pollution that has led to various diseases
and ailments such as cancer and respiratory problems.
It is to the credit of the Government that it considered the
matter of air pollution by vehicles seriously and took concrete
measures to combat the problem.
The result is the establishment of designated vehicle testing
centres that checked vehicles to ensure their bellies were clean
of the substances that ejected noxious black plumes into the
environment posing a grave health hazard.
In this regard, Transport Minister Dullus Alahapperuma too
should be commended for steadfastly pursuing with the project
not heeding to the political fall out this would entail.
We say this because all past attempts to rein in polluting
motor vehicles came against a blank wall due to the fear by the
politicians of the day to antagonise the vast army of motorists
particularly the private bus drivers by forcing them to toe the
Not only that we were often confronted with the familiar
sight of traffic policemen at intersections wearing handkerchief
masks to escape the noxious vehicle fumes instead of
apprehending and charging the offenders.
The hard line adopted by the Minister should be taken all the
way to ensure the corrupt elements at these centres are hounded
out. No obstacle should be allowed to stand in the way of
success of this operation that is finally being implemented
after much misgiving and procrastination.
Special decoys should be deployed to keep an eye on these
elements and lightning raids carried out on these centres to
arrest the corrupt. No doubt, a large number of motorists are
bound to find ways to shirk the testing since most of these
vehicles would have to be completely overhauled first before
they are brought to perfect order.
They would rather oil palms to obtain a clearance certificate
than go to the extent of incurring heavy expenses to
re-condition their vehicles. This is where the Minister should
There should be no political influence to get any errant
motorist off the hook. Already the nation has suffered enough by
way of abandoned plans that would have benefited the people, due
to political interference.
The moonshine racket is one example where political influence
has caused much harm and damage to the fabric of society. The
vehicle emission test assumes much more importance due to its
direct relevance to the health of the population. The National
Health Budget could be spared extra burden if this scheme is
implemented with a 100 percent success.
Minister Ranawaka’s firm insistence that he would not
tolerate any interference from any quarter augers well for the
future. He should receive the full backing of all his Cabinet
colleagues to see through this program without a hitch.