Action is being taken to introduce a fuel subsidy scheme for the
three- wheelers with the intention of protecting the travelling public
from the unconscionable fare increases by the three-wheeler fraternity,
every time the fuel prices are revised locally to reflect international
prices of crude oil.
Currently the crude oil prices have passed the US$ 70.00 mark per
barrel. It is expected to rise further and even reach 80.00 dollars a
barrel before coming down if at all. In any case the days of cheap oil
are seem to be over; we cannot expect the price of crude oil to come
down below 50 dollars even at the best of times in the future.
In this scenario one wonders whether giving a subsidy of Rs. 300.00
per month for three wheeler taxis is going to be a lasting solution
against the ever increasing oil prices. It is also unlikely to have any
impact on the exorbitant fares charged by the three-wheeler operators at
present. With the last fuel price increase these people have already
raised their fares very steeply.
The minimum fare has been increased by Rs. 10.00 with correspondingly
steep increases on long distance journeys. It is unlikely these fares
would come down just because a fuel subsidy is given now. On the
contrary the authorities will be compelled to increase the subsidy with
every future fuel price adjustment.
This is a bad precedent likely to trigger demands from other quarters
too for a similar subsidy; I mean school vans, private bus owners and
lorries engaged in the transportation of essential items like rice,
flour and vegetables, practically everybody other than private car
Thus the authorities will find itself caught up in a fuel subsidy
scheme from which it would find escape impossible. In fact there would
be no escape.
Trying to hold down taxi fares artificially by giving subsidies may
not be the right solution. Instead the people must be taught to resist
unreasonable fare increases by using three-wheelers as sparingly as
possible and resort to other modes of transport or even walk short
distances without jumping into a taxi at the slightest excuse.
When the cabmen realise that there is resistance on the part of the
public against high fares their charges would automatically come down to
a reasonable level without the necessity of a subsidy or any other
With the number of three-wheelers on our roads increasing daily, it
would not be long before the normal law of supply and demand begin to
operate and affect the fare structure of these taxis to the benefit of
those who use this mode of transport in getting about.
Recently the mass media brought the present situation of the
Rajangana reservoir to the notice of the authorities. The reservoir,
which is one of the largest reservoirs of Sri Lanka supplies water to a
vast area of Rajangana left and right bank for the tillage of paddy
fields. Now the massive concrete dam of reservoir bristles with leaky
cracks and water leaks through these cracks that are clearly visible in
The cracks that have appeared in the dam with thirty sluice gates may
be in fact, warnings of impending disaster to come. The Rajangana
reservoir has been a very attractive place among local and foreign
visitors since a long time and crowds of visitors repairing to feast
their eyes on the beauty of the reservoir can be seen especially during
the time of opening of sluice gates.
Likewise, the road on the dam along which a lot of light and heavy
vehicles run, especially the road that runs up to Thambuththegama area
is also in a bad condition and is in need of urgent repair. All
agricultural activities of the agrarian community of the Rajanganaya
area depend completely on the reservoir and the time is ripe for the
relevant authorities to take immediate action in this regard.
It was after reaching the Brisbane Airport on August 13 morning that
I came to know about the tragic death of our Foreign Minister Lakshman
Kadirgamar. I was shocked and dismayed but not surprised.
For, didn't we all know that he had been a prime target of LTTE for
over a decade and they had to succeed only once to achieve their target?
I went to Brisbane to attend an International Conference held there and
I had submitted a paper on 'Engagement of Communities in Crisis:
Post-Tsunami - the Case of Sri Lanka', to be presented at the
It so happened that I had included a passage from Late Foreign
Minister's speech at the Tsunami Conference held in Jakarta in January,
in my paper. Making use of this, in the presentation of the paper on
August 17, I dedicated it to the memory of Lakshman Kadirgamar and
placed the responsibility for this dastardly act squarely on the LTTE,
which I described as "twin brother or the first cousin of Al Queda".
I also observed a few seconds' silence in honour of the Late
Minister. I think this was well received by the international audience
at the Conference.
This was my humble tribute to a great son of our soil.