The need for vigilance
The acute sense of danger and
the timely intervention on the part of an alert passenger that
saved the lives of a hoard of commuters aboard a private bus on
Saturday at Mt. Lavinia brings into sharp focus the need for
eternal vigilance on the part of the public at a time terror
stalks every nook and corner in the City.
The Government has aptly chosen to reward this commendable
act which averted what would been a carnage of massive
A heightened sense of civic responsibility would go a long
way in helping thwart the designs of the barbaric LTTE which is
now on the run in the wake of the determined thrust the Security
Forces in the Tiger heartland.
All newspapers yesterday carried banner headlines of the
episode where the timely intervention of the passenger, acting
on a hunch, informed the conductor of a suspicious looking
parcel in the bus which prompted an immediate evacuation of the
passengers minutes before the explosion.
Going by the pictures of the smouldering wreckage of the bus
that was shown on TV it is a certainty that all the passengers
would have been consigned to a horrible death.
It is in this context that this singular act which would have
plunged many a family into heart rending grief and mourning not
to mention the fear psychosis engendered in the public at large,
should be viewed and appreciated.
The passenger concerned should not only be materially
rewarded for this act but also made a shining example for the
public to emulate by even conferring a civilian honour reserved
for acts of bravery.
Meanwhile steps should be taken to maximise security in
public transport in the wake of the emerging threat to target
buses and trains where the terrorist could cause the most
Bus crews should be instructed to check all parcels and
baggage of commuters boarding buses and be on constant alert
throughout the journey for suspicious passengers and movements.
There is a current directive issued to all bus crew that
there should be no parcels allowed to be left on overhead racks
but apparently this is not always followed.
The Government should intensify its public awareness campaign
on the existing dangers and extend this to schools and all
sectors so that a wider network could be formed to avert
A system should also be devised enabling more direct links
between the Security Forces and the public considering that
speed is of the essence in averting diasters of the nature.
This would also help cement better understanding and foster
liaisons that would help in extra public vigilance and
surveillance that would help abort designs of the terrorists as
borne out by Saturday’s episode.
A cross section of the public
interviewed by our Weekend Paper “Sunday Observer” was up in
arms against any further attempts to increase electricity
tariffs and justifiably so.
An electricity hike is bound to create a ripple effect in the
market place as much as oil prices which would, in turn place
additional burdens on the public vis-a-vis the cost of living.
Here the Government is in a dilemma. While on the one
subsidising the CEB which is in the red it also has to depend on
fuel driven electricity for 65 per cent of its power generation
at a time a barrel of crude oil has hit the 100 Dollar mark in
the world market.
Power and Energy Minister John Seneviratne had resisted many
calls for an electricity tariff hike in the recent past.
He says the Government had no intention to effect an
unconscionable increase in the electricity tariff and that any
adjustment would be done without imposing additional burdens on
While the Minister’s sentiments in this regard are most
welcome we should at the same time pay more attention towards
conservation. In this respect many Government institutions
appear to be the worst offenders.
One has only to witness the unwanted illuminations in State
buildings and the number of municipal electricity lamps switched
on well into daytime to get but a glimpse of the problem.
The Government should also take cognizance of any proposed
power hikes on the industrial sector for the high electricity is
one of the factors keeping away most investors from our shores.
While the public may be justly aggrieved by the increase in
the electricity rate bills they too contribute to the crisis by
their indifferent attitudes towards conservation.
How many people leave lightbulbs on in empty rooms, just to
give one example ? Simple power saving measures can protect
consumers’ wallets as well as save foreign exchange.