the North is continuing at an accelerated pace as if to make up
for the lost years of neglect and abandonment. This also
contributes to the speeding up the normalisation process after
decades of war. From all reports the Jaffna peninsula is today
buzzing with activity with traders from the South and local
tourists descending on the area as at no other time in recent
A significant development in the peninsula post war has not
only been the rehabilitation of war damaged infrastructure and
rebuilding over the rubble. New edifices and constructions are
also coming up at a rapid pace transforming the entire peninsula
from an abandoned and war devastated landmass to a new dynamic
The latest addition is the Sangupiddy new bridge built at a
cost of Rs 1037 million on the Navatkuli-Karathivu-Mannar (A32)
road that was declared opened by President Mahinda Rajapaksa
yesterday. The bridge which is 288 meters in length and 7.4
meters in width while providing a new gateway to the peninsula
by passing the A9 route will also shorten the distance to Jaffna
by 110 kilometres. The new bridge was a fulfilment of a pledge
made in the Mahinda Chintana policy document.
The minimal distance and less travel time to the peninsula
via the new bridge no doubt is going to increase the tempo
further with more and more North bound traffic. With the
completion of the railway system and repairs to other roadways,
Jaffna no doubt will be transformed into commercial hub in the
The bridge is part of the Uthuru Vansanthaya program to
rejuvenate the North. With the recommencement of the many ferry
services and the repairs to other small-scale bridges the people
of the North can today travel unhampered and in freedom.
As mentioned this easy access now to the North via the new
bridge is bound to see an expansion of activity in the North.
The less distance means less transport costs which will also
bring down prices of commodities in the peninsula. Travel to
Jaffna would also now be more frequent among the Southerners due
to the cut down in distance adding to the general activity.
More avenues should be sought to ease hassles in travel to
the North such as cutting down on distance to get more and more
people visit the peninsula. One of the choices would be
expanding sea travel and exploring the possibility of using the
numerous watercourses and waterways that lead to the peninsula.
This would not only be a popular mode of travel but also a
tourist attraction and encourage holiday voyages to the North.
People of the North who were isolated from the rest of the
country for long years should be provided more and more
interaction with their Southern brethren. Therefore it is vital
that more and more avenues are opened to facilitate easy access
to each other.
The new bridge that will now cut down travel time and
minimise hassle hopefully would start a steady stream of traffic
to the North. This while helping facilitate more and more
interaction would also speed up the integration process.
Building bridges is also symbolic in that it signifies
building bridges into the hearts and minds of the communities.
The shortening of the distance to Jaffna through this new bridge
also carries a symbolic message. That is the continuous
narrowing of the gulf that existed between the two communities,
leading to a genuine reconciliation. The new proximity also is
an indicator of the desire to reach out by the two communities
to one and another and cement permanent bonds.
In that context the Sangupiddy bridge stands as a sentinel in
the on going unification process of the estranged communities
and as a symbol of shrinking differences.
gesture on the part of group of soldiers to give away their own
rations to some of the flood-affected civilians in Batticaloa
indeed calls for the highest praise.
According to a weekend paper the Army had gone one step ahead
this week in the East by giving whatever rations they had in
their stocks to feed the hapless civilians in Batticaloa. This
is despite a ground rule that prohibit military rations being
given to civilians or outsiders. It is indeed an eye opener to
those elements who demonised our soldiers during the war years
accusing them of human rights abuses and other atrocities
What more humane gesture can one think of than feeding ones
fellow beings though from a different community in distress with
one’s own food rations? It is also a sample of the new role
assumed by the military after the war in the cause of easing the
burdens of civilians even going to extent of being involved in
the selling of commodities at cheap prices.
Hopefully the entrenched views by some regarding our military
would undergo a radical change by such gestures of humanism.