Monday, 24 June 2002  
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Traffic on the Kotte Road

I am a regular user of the Kotte Road and Cotta Road and the traffic has gone steadily from bad to worse. If you travel along the fancy dual carriageway you will see lots of policemen lined up be decked in white gloves and with their whistles stuck in their mouths like soothers. You have to only look around you while driving on that road and even, if you dare, venture into Cotta Road. Total chaos prevails!

Recently on my way to work I spent 20 minutes stationary, trying to enter the parliament Road from Rajagiriya. The traffic at that particular junction was being directed by an officer of the Welikada police station. In desperation I walked up to him and asked him why he was not allowing any traffic into the Kotte Road from the feeder roads. He answered saying that his understanding of directing traffic was to allow all the traffic in the main road to finish and then allow the feeder traffic in ! If this is the case why have a policeman directing traffic at all ? You can simply allow all the traffic to go and then automatically get on the main road .

This particular policeman also said that he was going to close the feeder roads as they where creating problems. I am the grandson of a former IGP of Police and I am ashamed to think of what has happened to what was once an honourable body of men who took pride in their work.

R. A. RATWATTE -
Rajagiriya.

Child health in the Vanni

The spectrum of childhood diseases seen in a child welfare clinic in the Vanni is quite different to what is seen in other parts of the country. It is closer what was seen elsewhere 30 to35 years ago. That was my experience after evaluating about 250 children in the Vanni. Chronic ear infections are very common.

There were children with chronic malaria and two cases of healed Polio, who have possibly been infected not very long ago. The prevalence of Iron deficiency anaemia is much commoner than seen elsewhere. Many children were stunted in growth due to chronic malnutrition Night blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency seems common with 2 cases of Keratomalacia, a condition that has caused permanent eye damage due to this deficiency. The mega dose of VitaminA given to children don't seem to reach these ones.

There were few retarded and deaf children with no services possible at all. Unlike here young mothers had 3 to 5 children even though family planning services are supposed to be available. There was a 12year old with juvenile Hypothyroidism (lack of Thyroid hormone) who is getting retarded, as he cannot get adequate hormone replacement therapy. Children do get their routine vaccines; the efficacy of which however is questionable as the electricity power generation is controlled by the LTTE for a few hours in the night.Vaccines loose their potency unless refrigerated. Bacterial skin infections and dry skins were very common skin diseases that were seen, but allergic skin conditions like eczema was not seen. Wheezing which is a common paediatric problem in this part of the country seems to be surprisingly uncommon, perhaps due to absence of environmental pollution. There were not many retarded and handicapped children. Possibly those who get into problems at birth like asphyxia (babies who donot breathe at birth), hypoglycaemia (lack of glucose at birth), and infection of the newborn are not treated and the babies die due inadequate care of the newborn.

There was one small hospital for many a mile managed by an AMP but the drugs are very scanty. There are no private pharmacies selling drugs in the private sector.. Nurses are not seen. There is the occasional field midwife in the who visits the hospital when there is a delivery. Home deliveries do occur frequently.

DR. MAXIE FERNANDOPULLE - 
Colombo.5.

Introducing classical music

Lovers of classical music are in for a bonanza through our charismatic Prime Minister, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe's vision of transforming Sri Lanka into an international hub of the performing arts especially through orchestral music and grand opera, great names like Luciano Pavarotti, Placida Domingo, Jose Carras, operatic singers, Anne Sophie, Vladimir Spirakov violinists and many more are due to make their debut in Sri Lanka.

While this is all good, let us make a start by publicising classical music through radio and television.Sri Lanka has quite a large number of radio and TV stations, but none of them not even the State owned stations do spare a little time for this type of music.

From morning till night we hear nothing but 'pop' and the so called 'new generation music." Virtually we are living in a cultural desert.

Singapore and Hongkong are far ahead of us in this respect.Good music soothes the mind.

Half the ills that are prevailing in this country could be overcome if our citizens especially the up and coming younger generations are taught to listen and appreciate classical music. Therefore I believe our PM will look into this before internationally famed artistes are brought here.

J.I. ROSAIRO -
Nittambuwa

Work towards a quality private bus service

We daily see deterioration of discipline amongst the laymen by way of attacking the occasional errant bus driver, especially after the recent bus strike. It would not be that the number of bus accidents increased after the strike but the laymen's attitude towards the bus drivers and conductors have changed after the strike as they have taken the poor bus commuters to ransom by not operating their busses on that fateful day.

Even as you read this letter you would recall how rudely the conductors talked to you, how they disregard your rights by keeping the bus stationary at every junction in the hot sun till the bus gets filled up, how they crawl away from the junction for the first three bus halting places and how they try to give you a heart attack by speeding at breakneck speed to overtake a competitor. Those who do not use private buses and drive their own cars also will recollect how these drivers drive their huge Leyland busses offensively, block your right of way so till he picks his fare and in the meantime do not allow other buses to proceed and pick passengers from the next bus halt.

Also the verbal abuse and intimidating drive with blaring horn at you if you were unfortunate enough to block their path even for a second. The bus owners are lamenting at the reduced profit due to high wastage of engine, fuel, tyres due to constant raising of the engine at the bus halting place to indicate to the passengers that the bus is about to leave, reckless driving, constant knocks with other vehicles and occasional burning from unruly mobs after a fatal accident.

There are various alternatives to remove most of these undesired things mentioned. However, with the formation of the cluster bus companies in the private bus sector the country is on the verge of taking the final step towards a Total Quality Bus Service. The idea is to form one or more smaller Co operatives or Companies in each route.

The buses will have to operate according to a schedule and this schedule will have to be published for the public by way of a time table in the bus shelters. The bus operators will have to issue tickets and at the end of the day the earnings will be remitted with the cashier in a similar way to the CTB system. Time keepers and ticket checkers will ensure fair play by ensuring issuance of tickets and maintaining records of the number of trips performed.

The revenue will have to be distributed at a set period (weekly, bi weekly or monthly) according to the number of trips performed by each bus. If more than one company operates the same route they will share time table to provide buses in turn so that each company will have potential to earn an equal amount of revenue. There will be certain amount of administration cost to be deducted, which could either be handled through the permit cost, or some other fee as the ticket checkers and other admin personnel also have to be paid.

This will ensure the poor passengers be given a much better service and they will know when the bus for his destination will come along with more certainty. They will be able to get a better service from the conductors who do not have to abuse the passengers to move along the aisle to make room for twice the capacity of the bus, or being pushed up or down the steps to make a hurried entry or exit.

Availability of a time keeper at major bus halts will show a better face of the bus service, on which majority of the general public have to rely on. The difference between this system and the CTB is that the maintenance cost and the burden of crewing the buses will be done by the respective bus owners. There will be minimal interference by the much hated politicians to overburden the system by introducing their cronies and kill the service as this is a private concern with no reporting to the local politician.

The similarity to CTB in theory is that the buses will operate as per schedule, will have adequate capacity when required, will not waste precious energy and provide a courteous service to the general masses. I am sure that if properly managed, these companies will be able to use the full potential to provide a good quality service.

Good leadership skills in the managers of these companies will help maintain the service well. I hope the powers that be will take note of this alternative also and stop the carnage and help peace prevail on our roads.

KRISANTHA BANDARA - 
Nugegoda

Million dollar Lottery Quiz

Recently a certain State lottery No 1416 drawn on 11th June 2002, conducted on TV, showed the Jackpot Winning number as T 870117. The Jackpot was not won by anyone. Well and good for the lottery's kitty.

One of my friends had the number T870171 purchased from a Piliyandala lottery stall. He received a price of Rs 500/- from the seller. Good for him - even in a small way.

Now the Million Dollar Jackpot Quiz is how come that there was no claimant for the winning number?.

The difference between my friend's number and the winning number is 64 odd tickets.

Does it mean that agent could not sell these 64 lottery tickets? Or the agent had returned the winning ticket back to the lottery management before the draw?

Can a statistician or an expert on law of averages enlighten us on this subject.

ARIYASUMITHRA WIJEYARATNE - 
Piliyandala

Drinking and job seeking bhikkus

"Job seeking bhikkus" by Upali S. Jayasekera (23.05.2002) and the news item that appeared in the Daily News regarding drinking habits of undergraduates including bhikkus should be studied together.

Up to late fifties we could remember many bhikkus would not even touch money.

While travelling in buses we could see bhikkus carrying small change (those days 05 cts would carry a long way) in flat tins or local handwoven purses. They will not touch the coins but request the conductor to take his fare. Or else if an acolyte was accompanying he would handle the money.

With the establishment of the Vidyalankara and Vidyodaya Universities in 1959 and the Colombo and Peradeniya Campuses of the University taking in bhikkus in large numbers the guru-gola fabric (chief monk and the student monk) broke. Within a few years the signs were visible and with passing of time the total disintegration occurred.

This I believe was the first step taken by the 1956 administration to sound the death knell of Buddhist Society and culture.

An effort was made to reverse the trend by the late I. M. R. A. Iriyagolla under the Premiership of late Dudley Senanayake in 1969 by establishing the Buddha Sravaka Dharmapeetaya. They should have gone one step ahead and stopped bhikkus enroling in other Universities at least after women undergraduates were allowed to enrol.

All those who are concerned at the sad situation today should agree that more Universities such as the Buddha Sravaka Dharmapeetaya in Anuradhapura should be opened and the Sangha should study in such educational institutions only.

METTHANANDA WIJEKULASURIYA - 
Polgasowita.

Sojourn in Australia

I read with much interest the article on H. Jayasuriya's trip to Australia and two interesting personalities.

I urge that either local authorities or some benefactor creates an organisation to record our history as witnessed by the living witnesses before they disappear. Most of the eyewitnesses of Indian Independance as written by Dominique La Pierre in "Freedom at Midnight " are no more but their contribution survives.

If we do not take this step our future generations will be poorer. Costwise, this effort will repay in million times.

V. ANADASIVAM - 
via e-mail

Interest for ETF contributions

I observe from the statements issued by the Employees Trust Fund Board that the rate of interest paid to the employees account balance for the year 1999 has come down to 7.5% where it was some 13.5% per annum a few years before. Nobody knows what was the rate of interest paid for the years 1996, 1997, 1998 as the ETF Board has not sent the members balance statements for these years. The poor members have no way to check the balances credited to their individual accounts as the hierarchy of the ETF Board has made it a policy to send the statements to the employees only once in 5 years, may to cover up the irregularities and misdeeds at the ETF Board.

I fail to understand why the ETF Board cannot send annual statements like the Central Bank of Sri Lanka sends the balance statements indicating the opening balance, amount credited during the year and the rate of interest paid etc. enabling the employees to find out whether the employer has remitted the total 20% contribution in time.

Further when continuously the Central Bank can pay interest between 10 and 13 per cent why and how the interest rate of ETF can be as low as 7.5% per annum.

V.V.K. DAVID, - 
Colombo 15.

Affno

HNB-Pathum Udanaya2002

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