End the carnage on our roads | Daily News


 

End the carnage on our roads

It appears that road deaths are turning out to be routine in this country. The latest is the horrendous accident in Passara where 12 passengers were killed and scores injured, when a SLTB bus plunged down a precipice.

The casualty toll will only go on to add to the ever mounting road accident fatality list, while the incident will be erased from the collective memory of the public until the grim reaper claims the next haul of lives on our roads. Something drastic ought to be done to arrest this soaring death toll on our roads.

In fact the problem should be dealt with, with the same intensity and resourcefulness as the war against terrorism by the authorities. The time has come for the authorities to pay more attention on the suitability and competence of those handling motor vehicles. Serious thought should be given to amend the existing rules governing driver licensing and the age factor.

An age ceiling should also be imposed for driving all vehicles, especially heavy vehicles. This is because most of the vehicles involved in smash ups are those such as tipper trucks which are often being driven by older persons on long haul journeys. Their reflexes are slow and even a second’s diversion could send a vehicle haywire resulting in a big tragedy.

A majority of accidents in recent times have occurred in the wee hours and reportedly when the drivers had fallen asleep at the wheel. While this could happen to any individual irrespective of age, drivers of advanced age are more likely to be vulnerable.

Slow and erratic reflexes also lead to road accidents as a result of poor control of vehicles. Here again age plays a part. Road-worthiness of vehicles too should be assessed from time to time. Most road accidents could well be the result of faulty mechanisms.

Many accidents also occur on well laid out strips that invite fast driving. Paradoxically, it appears that development and upgrading of our road systems has in the process led to an increase in the number of road accidents and loss of lives. Most importantly, many roads need widening to carry the heavy traffic.

In addition, vehicles of old vintage and rickety jalopies should be put off the road, since they are prone to mechanical defects than new vehicles, resulting in accidents. Fitness tests should be made compulsory for all drivers of motor vehicles at regular intervals to avoid disaster, since, as is commonly known, those addicted to alcohol display symptoms that are not conducive to steady manoeuvering.

Private buses, no doubt, are the worse culprits when it comes to road discipline and have lived up to their dubious tag of being ‘killers on wheels’. According to the Chairman of the All Island Private Bus Owners’ Association Gemunu Wijeratne nearly one third of all private bus drivers in the Western Province are drug addicts. Need one say more?

 


Save our leopards

All animal lovers in this country, no doubt, would have held their breath in agony while watching on television the magnificent specimen of the leopard which lay prone in death, allegedly the victim of poachers who are increasingly making their presence felt to the great detriment of our endangered species in the wilds.

The fully grown male leopard was found dead near the Udawalawe National Park with its teeth plugged out and forepaws cut off. The Wild Life officers found the laid out carcass at the edge of the Mau Ara Tank near the Park. This was a great tragedy, since only around seven leopards are said to be roaming in the Udawalawe National Park, unlike Yala which has more specimens.

It was only the other day that TV networks showed the bloody remains of a civet cat (Handun Diviya) which had been run over by a vehicle on the Southern Expressway. However poaching has been the chief cause for the rapid dwindling of our much endangered leopard community, which is down to less than a hundred and if the trend continues would reach the point of total extinction. It is already on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Hence the need for the Wildlife authorities to take urgent steps to arrest the decline and catch poachers in the act. Moreover, a proper solution should be found to the human-elephant conflict as well. We can follow India, which conducts awareness and education programmes on co-existence for villagers who have to live along with elephants and leopards.

In the meantime, the Wildlife officers should be properly equipped to deal with the offenders and if need be even the STF deployed to hunt down the poachers if we are to salvage what remains of our precious wildlife, hailed by CNN and other publications as being among the top in the world.


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