Towards political unity
Two news items that we carried prominently on our
front page yesterday would have caught the attention of all
right-thinking citizens who yearn for political and communal
harmony in our land. UNP veteran K. N. Choksy, PC, has said that
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has benefitted the nation by wiping
out terrorism and restoring economic progress. In another
development, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has highly
commended the efforts of Senior Presidential Advisor Basil
Rajapaksa MP and Resettlement Minister Rishard Badhiutheen in
resettling the displaced families in the Northern Province.
It is significant that Members of two parties which bitterly
oppose the Government on many fronts have openly praised the
Government’s handling of the peace and reconciliation process.
In the words of MP Choksy, “there is one further important
national task left to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, which I am
confident he can achieve. That is to establish ethnic
understanding and amity between the major communities”.
This is indeed a major challenge facing the Government.
President Rajapaksa has shown the way by visiting the newly
resettled families in the Vanni and ordering the acceleration of
resettlement. No fears should be entertained on that count, as
MP Basil Rajapaksa has already overseen the resettlement of a
record number of IDPs so far.
Political and community amity is essential at this critical
juncture. The war has ended, but we are faced with the
monumental task of rehabilitating former war-torn regions and
creating lasting peace.
All progressive forces should join hands with the Government
to complete this noble mission. The Opposition should and must
engage in constructive criticism, but opposing even the
commendable achievements of the Government will not endear them
to the people. MPs Choksy and N. Srikantha have shown that the
Opposition should not hesitate to praise the good deeds of the
Government. This will hopefully set a precedent where the
Government and the Opposition could work together in earnest for
the betterment of the Nation.
Elections and political work should not be seen as a
hindrance to this process. Elections are an inherent feature in
a democracy. With two major elections due in the next few
months, politicians on all sides must not lose sight of the
primary task of rebuilding the Nation at this hour. This is
another reason why the country needs a strong Executive
Presidency which can withstand and resist internal and external
forces bent on destabilizing the country. Sri Lanka is on the
cusp of achieving lasting peace and reconciliation and no room
should be left to harm that aim.
Easing traffic woes
Traffic congestion is a fact of life in Colombo and in
other key cities in the country.
Colombo suffers the most because it has the largest number of
vehicles - around 100,000 vehicles enter the City daily. With
hundreds of new vehicles entering the roads every day, the
existing roads can hardly cope. This leads to bumper-to-bumper
traffic. Some short journeys within the City can take up to one
hour during the so-called morning and evening rush hours.
Ironically, traffic lights can sometimes compound the problem
instead of resolving it. This is mainly because the lights are
The ideal scenario would be ensuring a smooth flow of traffic
in a given direction by turning the lights green at all
intersections along that particular stretch of the road. Now,
vehicles have to stop every 50 metres or so as the signal lights
are not coordinated.
Sanity seems to have prevailed at last as road planners have
realised this stark reality. The four-kilometre stretch of road
from Ayurveda Junction, Rajagiriya, to Horton Place roundabout
would no longer be a motorists’ headache with the installation
of a new synchronized traffic light system within the next few
days, Colombo Municipal Council Competent Authority Omar Kamil
has said. This journey sometimes takes up to one hour due to the
chaotic signalling system. Some policemen make it even worse by
overriding the signals and ordering motorists to run red lights.
The improvement of traffic signals is a welcome move that
should be expanded to other parts of the City. All traffic
lights should also be equipped with countdown timers, as seen at
The widening of major roads in Colombo, the installation of
flyovers and the construction of an Outer Circular Road will
also contribute towards a smoother flow of traffic.
Driver education on safe and disciplined driving is also
essential, not to mention a superior public transport system
such as a metro/tube that will convince more motorists to keep
their cars at home.
The Cityliner shuttle bus service is slowly but surely
becoming a success, but an even more refined and faster public
transport service is needed for Colombo. The authorities should
try more innovative methods to control the flow of traffic
within the City.