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Friday, 20 November 2009

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Government Gazette

How good are we at maintenance?

A few days back we carried the news of the collapse of a part of a historic building in Galle Fort which currently houses several important institutions. Obviously this is not the first such building to collapse. Such occurrences only highlight the state of neglect of public and historic buildings.

It must be said to the credit of the authorities that much more public buildings are built and put to use than those that collapse. We are, in fact, very particular to report such occurrences and each opening of a building gets the glare of publicity. Auspicious times are keenly observed and celebrities are welcomed to the occasion and visuals are sent for safe keeping to be used as future remembrances.

However, once the buildings are put to use not much attention is paid to their maintenance. You could see most public buildings badly maintained with cracks in walls or roofs, unkempt interiors, broken toilets and moss gathering exteriors.

Not only buildings-look at our roads, byroads and bylanes. The moment roads are repaired and macadamized or carpeted they will be dug for cable laying or pipe laying or for some other purpose. If there is nothing else to do, the islands in the middle of the road will be either widened or narrowed. Due to the lack of constant maintenance and repairs small crevices on road surfaces would develop into potholes with ever increasing diameters. The side drains being not properly maintained roads get inundated even with minor showers.

Besides most road repairs go on for long periods with the result that once they are completed the parts repaired at the first instant needs repairs again. Any one moving along the city roads could see unfinished repairs with edges upturned or lamp-posts remaining dangerously in the middle of a widened road inviting mishaps.

Roads that are not maintained slow down the traffic, cause traffic congestion and even make them accident-prone. To it should be added the man hours lost by commuters who travel to their work places and the loss of foreign exchange for additional consumption of imported fuel for the vehicles on the move.

Perhaps the road development authorities, should learn a lesson from the village rural mothers who believe that a stitch in time saves nine.

Speaking of road repairs and maintenance one wonders whether we should use mechanised equipment such as backhoes even to dig a one foot wide, two or three feet deep trench by the side of a road. Couldn't the idle labour of the unemployed be better used productively and cheaply for such purposes?

This is part of a wider problem of where our inability to choose the proper technology results in wasteful expenditure. A remedy requires thinking out of the box and forging out a policy for optimal use of our human resources and available technology.


Much ado about nothing

Americans, at least some of them, are funny people. They are making a big fuss about President Barack Obama bowing before Emperor Hirohito in Japan. The decent fellow he is, Obama had only respected the tradition of the host country.

The critics, on the other hand, consider it infra dig for the President of the United States, the only superpower in the world to bow so low before a leader of a less powerful country, however friendly it is.

They have wrongly interpreted their President's gesture. It is nothing more than expressing the goodwill of the US towards Japan, its close ally. After all Obama did not lie prostrate before the Emperor or worship him the way Buddhists do by keeping his knees, elbows and head touching the ground.

This is certainly much ado about nothing. Perhaps it is a reflexion of the air of superiority or the arrogance with which the United States treated other nations throughout. President Obama's gesture may be the change he promised. Conservative elements seem to resist it and the present controversy is also a part of it.

Pondering over the predicament President Obama is faced with we could offer him some sound advice. Why not change over to the oriental way of salutation as we say Ayubowan with cusped palms. You need not bend down and you could even keep your body erect.
 

Fair wages and social protection in spotlight:

New strategies vital to tackle labour issues

As a developing country, Sri Lanka is faced with the main challenges of creating a conducive environment for full and productive employment. These include payment of a fair wage and social protection by domestic enterprises faced with increasing competitive pressures in the global economy;

Full Story

The Morning inspection

On ‘wowing’ the AAAAAI-EM-EF

It is reported that when the US economy was hit by the financial crisis, 54 banks in that country had closed down. Contrast this with Sri Lanka. This is a country whose economy was said to be in a constant state of imminent collapse ever since Mahinda Rajapaksa became President.

Full Story

Sudath Silva - the man behind the picture

Those who have exceptional skills in the field of publishing, especially in the highly competitive area of newspapers and magazines, are often described as persons who have printer’s ink running in their veins.

Full Story

 

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