Normality returning to Jaffna
Step by step we see normality returning to the North
with the end to the three decades long conflict. Gradually all
features common to the South are being supplanted in the North.
Transport Minister Dullas Alahapperuma told Parliament on
Thursday that a Colombo - Kandy luxury bus service is to be
launched along the A9 highway. Arugambay has been picked up as
the venue for the National Surfing Championship. Both the North
and East are also awakening to their full tourist potential.
Earlier, we saw Banks both State and private, expressing
keenness to open branches in the North. Hopefully, this will be
a reality soon.
The latest venture to visit the North is Lak Sathosa, the
budget shop started by Trade and Commerce and Cooperatives
Minister Bandula Gunawardena with the avowed aim of bringing
down the cost of living in the North. A team headed by the
Minister was in Jaffna on Thursday to set things in motion for
the commencement of this retail marketing chain to enable the
people of Jaffna to purchase their essential items at nominal
prices. According to our Page One report, the Jaffna famous
Windsor Theatre will be converted into the Sathosa outlet and
business is to commence within two weeks.
The Ministerial team had also held discussions with members
of the Jaffna Chambers of Commerce, small and medium scale
traders and farmers at the Jaffna Kachcheri to seek ways and
means to bring down the cost of living and address other
problems confronting both traders and the populace. This is a
move in the right direction. Being cut off from the North all
these years, there certainly are problems specific to these
segments which the Minister may not be aware of.
It is through such a dialogue that a correct picture would
emerge and remedies applied accordingly. Without doubt there
were many unscrupulous elements who exploited the war situation
to heap misery of a different kind on the people of the North.
It was revealed that the price of drumsticks were as high as Rs.
400 a kilo. If this is the case with so common an item in Jaffna
such as drumsticks, there must be something surely wrong
It was pointed out that there is a monopoly being created by
certain traders holding the poor harried Jaffna public hostage
ala the Pettah Mafia. The Minister rightly emphasized that Sri
Lanka has turned a new page and it was now one Sri Lanka and one
Nation. He said President Mahinda Rajapaksa did not want to have
different prices for essential goods whether it was it be
Colombo, Galle, Matara or Jaffna.
No one could agree more with the President. Since the country
is now marching forward together with the defeat of separatism,
there cannot be different standards and different norms for
different communities and groups of people who inhabit this
country. This has already being made clear by the President
during his Victory Day address. Therefore, all impediments and
bottlenecks that stood in the way of the Jaffna population
enjoying the nation's bounties should be removed forthwith and
the path smoothened for them to enjoy all benefits and fruits on
par with their brethren in the South.
Immediate remedies therefore should be devised to help
ameliorate the conditions of the Jaffna population which had
been reeling under the burden of hyper inflation brought about
by artificial means during the past three decades. The Minister
has acted wisely in this regard and he deserves praise for
taking steps to address one of the gravest hardships being
endured by the people of the North. The condition of many of
escapees from the North during the final battle speaks volumes
for the suffering and privations these people had been subjected
It is no secret that only those who were receiving foreign
remittances from their kith and kin were able to survive even
barely by purchasing goods at exorbitant prices. The rest were
condemned to a life of semi starvation due to the limited
rations that were available as a result of the LTTE
appropriating the bulk of the food items sent to Jaffna. The
Government therefore should take immediate steps to ensure they
receive an unending supply of essential items at affordable
prices so that they may regain their lost strength and dignity
and be able to contribute their might for the Nation's future
development and prosperity.
The planned lifting of the embargo slapped on certain items
during the war too would help improve the situation. This should
be done expeditiously, now that the reason for such embargo is