Getting a move on things | Daily News

Getting a move on things

As the country rises from the debris of the Easter Sunday carnage it behoves on the authorities to speedily restore community life, and, what is more, put the economy back on the rails. For there can be no doubt that the economy is left reeling from the worst terror attack to hit the country, with the tourist industry dealt a virtual death blow. In the week following the attack tourist arrivals were down by as much as 50 percent in a backdrop where the industry was picking up after a long slump.

Hence it was appropriate that both, the President and Prime Minister, met hoteliers, travel agents and others connected to the tourist industry to work out strategies to come out of the situation. Of course, the road ahead will not be easy for the industry .We say this because for the first time in this country, Five star Hotels patronized by the up end tourists were targeted by terrorists, with as much as 41 foreigners killed. Already a host of countries have revised their travel advisories on Sri Lanka aggravating the situation.

Not just the tourism sector, all other businesses appear strangulated by the unprecedented calamity. Trade hubs in the Fort and the Pettah have taken on a forlorn appearance. Supermarkets have seen a drastic drop in the customers, what with the intense security measures in place, including a ban on parking in Supermarket premises. Even the humble thosai kades are without patrons and vegetable and fruit vendors complain about a steep drop in sales following the bomb attacks. Hence, the economy, as a whole, has taken the full brunt of the Easter Sunday attacks which will need a herculean effort on the part of the Government to put right.

The attacks have also seen the various development programmes coming to a standstill. For instance, there is no mention now about the Government’s showpiece Gamperaliya programme. Even the housing programme which was going at breakneck pace appears to have died down following the Easter Sunday devastation. The Government should lose no time in getting the stalled projects back on course while at the same time giving the foremost priority to security.

On this score the police and armed services have performed a stupendous job. The blanket swoop across the country has yielded deadly arsenal which certainly were to be used for future attacks. Had the Easter tragedy not taken place it is difficult to comprehend the catastrophe that awaited the country. In that sense, it could be verily said that the massive human sacrifice spared the country even a greater devastation in which rivers of blood may have flowed.

The threat is by no means over, if one were to go by the daily detection of explosives and arms caches. In that respect, the Government would do well not to drop its guard even after the immediate threat appears to be tapering off. In this respect the special security plans proposed by President for schools is noteworthy. No doubt schools- particularly Catholic schools- are vulnerable, given that the violence was directed at the churches. According to our news story yesterday, the Security Forces, together with the police and the Civil Security Department, will put into operation a comprehensive security plan covering over 10,000 schools, universities and other higher education institutions. President Sirisena has ordered the defence hierarchy to ensure the security of these institutions around the country before the commencement of the second term, next Monday. Personnel from the Civil Security Department, currently engaged in development and agriculture related activities would be deployed, together, with Security Forces contingents to protect schoolchildren, the report stated. Senior student/prefects are to be deployed to verify the identity of students at the gate and parents not allowed to remain at the school entrances. It would wise, too, if tabs be kept on all drivers of school vans and parents be informed to establish their (drivers) identities on a daily basis to ensure strangers don’t takeover.

His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, no doubt, would have given the necessary advice to the Rectors and Directors of Catholic schools on the appropriate measures to be taken in this regard. His Eminence, certainly, has won the admiration and respect of all communities for the statesmanlike qualities he displayed at a time of grave crisis that could have easily developed into a massive conflagration but for his intervention. There are even suggestions that he may be nominated for the Nobel Prize for his role in ensuring peace in the country during the calamity, at a time when the country’s politicians were found wanting.

The blame game, unfortunately, is still on, with accusations being traded back and forth by the politicians at a time the buzzword should be unity, to tide over the crisis. Sections of the media too are stoking the embers of hatred instead of acting with responsibility. In this regard it needs to be mentioned that members of the Sangha acted with great responsibility and empathized with his Eminence at the tragedy to strike the Catholic community, which, it is certain, would go a long way in cementing bonds between the two religious groups.


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