Letters to the Editor

21st December 1997

Mirror Magazine


Do you call this construction?

Due to lack of common sense on the part of the contractor who has undertaken the laying of underground telecommunication cables, many roads in Kandy have been ruined and have become dangerous to motorists as well as pedestrians.

One such road that has been destructed is the Kandy Uduwela Road (from Hospital junction to IFS). The problem is that trenching is being done using heavy machinery not at all suitable for this purpose in this particular area. This road is narrow and the embankment is sloping. Therefore when the machine is placed in a stable position on the road, the cutting tool is almost on the middle of the road in certain areas. But it did not bother the contractor. He has dug up the middle of the road and laid the cable. While digging they have brought out the rubble that has been put under the road surface for stability.

To add insult to injury after laying the cable they have filled the trenches with loose earth expecting the motorist to do the compacting of earth by driving over it. With the rains it has become an extremely dangerous situation and I have seen many vehicles getting stuck in the mud. I will not be surprised if a fatal accident occurs, specially in the night with heavy rain when the visibility is minimal.

It is now nearly a month since this road has been dug out. No one seems to be interested in repairing it. Some water lines which were damaged are still leaking, wasting many gallons of treated water.

The rubble that was un-earthed when trenching, were left on the side of the road which have been removed by the villagers.

Questions we have to ask! Did the Telecom give specifications, to which the contractor should work? If so, are there engineers at Telecom who oversee this work to make sure that it is being done in accordance with the laid down specifications? Does the authority under whose purview these roads are, take any steps to see that these roads are not unduly damaged by these contractors? Will they take steps to put these roads back to their original condition?

Another thing that caught my attention is that a power cable was laid on the opposite side of the road in this same area by CEB about two months ago. They of course dug up on the side of the road without damaging the macadamized area of the road. They were able to do this as they cut the trenches manually. Why couldn't they plan these works so that it could have been co-ordinated with all concerned. If this was done both cables could have been laid on the same side of the road, using the same trench, thereby reducing the labour cost and inconvenience to the road user.

Nihal Palipane,


Let's scrap it!

How many more rag-victims must die and how many more insurrections and ethnic conflicts must arise before politicians of today realize that short-sighted policies of misguided politicians of yesterday must be scrapped if the country is to stop degenerating any further?

The root cause of all these problems is our education system that churns out young people who are not equipped with ordinary life-skills to obtain a job and progress. The jobs are there. The unemployed can never fit into them. The university graduates from under-developed areas are the most pathetic. They become, not the 'cream' but the frustrated 'dregs' of society who have simply passed examinations without gaining any refinement in thought and action.

A local graduate from a village cannot even come close to a school leaver from an International School in terms of simple life-skills, self-confidence and intelligence. It is time Minister Richard Pathirana took some bold steps to save the country. Scrap the Year 5 Scholarship. Scrap Free University Education. Use that money to develop all our schools so that every child can learn basic life-skills and 80% of those who sit 'O' Level and 'A' Level examinations can QUALIFY to enter any Fee-Levying University or get a job that meets their expectations.

The rest of the world thrives under this simple system while only Sri Lanka has degenerated to the extent that graduates torture and kill each other! But alas, in fifty years Sri Lanka has not produced a single Education Minister with guts to do what is right for the country!

Chitra Perera,

Colombo 4

Law Officer takes the law into his own hands

First of all, I wish to pose the question as to who is the Competent Authority to have (or declare) a road "closed".Surely, not the OIC Fort Police Station?

I shall relate why I say this. Whenever I visit the Fort (Colombo) it is a practice for me to also pay a visit to The Sri Lanka Ex-Servicemen's Institution (SLESI) cum Association at Bristol Street, Colombo 01.

On the morning of Tuesday Nov. 25, I was in my son's car and when about to enter the Bristol Street, as usual from the Main Street Check Point, I was stopped and asked to turn back.

When I tried to explain to the new PC (armed with a rifle) on duty, that normally I was allowed to visit the SLES's building, as we have a private car park there.

This PC was very adamant, and, so I spoke to the Sub Inspector in charge who was in a "cage" at one end of this road block. He upheld the PC's orders and told me that he had strict orders from his OIC, Fort Police Station, to prohibit all vehicles from entering Bristol Street.

My pleading for him to examine the car, our persons and our identity cards, were useless, as he too said "I must obey orders." I explained, I was also an Army Officer, who not only obeyed orders, but gave orders.

I also told him he was wasting his time there, as he did not have any discretion in the matter, and as his PC was capable of stopping vehicles, and carrying out the illegal orders of his OIC.

I had to walk the distance to the SLES's office and walk back to my car parked a distance away.

Strange there were a number of cars parked inside this "forbidden area", I was shown a list of cars for which the OIC had given permits. This is Democracy.

I write this with righteous indignation to enquire from the IGP, whether the bona fide car users should be treated in this cavalier manner by his underlings, who don't seem to use the little brains they have to serve the public with courtesy and with the least inconvenience.

"With malice towards none and charity towards all".

Captain L. P. Juriansz


Let us remember this Christmas

In a couple of days time, Christians throughout the country would be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. To celebrate this great event, Christians would spare no pains to brighten up their homes - the Christmas tree, the crib, decorations and crackers. We could also soon hear that beautiful hymn, 'Silent night Holy night', being sung in all churches on Christmas day.

We would have all kinds of everything, and that too in plenty, to enjoy Christmas.. Any amount of food and drinks and music too.

Oh! what a time, for Christmas comes but once a year.

Lest we forget, there is a raging war in the north and the east. Let us spare a thought for the dying and the maimed, the orphans and the refugees. Let us have a change of heart this Christmas season and contribute whatever we could for the welfare of the victims of war.

It is good to remember, as Christians, that Jesus Christ was born in a stable. So let us share, whatever we could spare with the poor. That indeed is the best way to celebrate Christmas.

J.T. Mirando


May god help these poor students

To most teachers of English of a few years ago C. N. S's series of articles featured in The Sunday Times recently, were most welcome, in that they not only evoked memories of English being taught as it ought to be, but because they also paid tribute to great teachers like Dr. Walatara and Mr. Samararatne. I myself was a student of Dr. Walatara at G. T. C. Maharagama. I also had the extremely good fortune of being involved myself in Mr. Samararatne's English Days when on the staff of All Saints' Borella in the mid-seventies. The contribution these great teachers have made towards improving the standard of English among students can never be measured.

The humour evoked when reading 'Howlers' made by students caused a lot of amusement. Students however, are still in the process of learning. That is why I feel that 'Howerls' in a question paper set for O/L students at their withdrawal test, in one of the most prestigious private boys' schools just outside the city of Colombo deserve our attention.

Does no one in authority proof-read or approve of a question paper before it is handed out to students at a test? The spelling errors in this particular paper are countless - but then, THAT can always be blamed on the typist. What can one make of a question like this?

Qs. A-1:-

"Soma Siyadoris wants to buy a 'Grandfather's clock' (sic) to present to her grandparents at their Silver Wedding. From where will she buy it?"

Did not whoever set the question realise that 'silver wedding' means 25 years of marriage and that the couple could not possibly have a grand-daughter old enough to go shopping for antiques? Is it fair by the students to make them face a badly prepared question paper before the actual examination? Another question requires the student to correct the 10 errors in a given paragraph, which has about 16 errors in all. Which 10 is he expected to correct?

All this goes to show that today's teachers just do not care. I was pleased however to know that there were a few students smart enough to have noted down all these mistakes to have them clarified later. The question paper itself is not generally seen by outsiders as students hand it in with their answers.

If this is the standard maintained by a highly prestigious private school, God help poor students in Governmnet Schools!

Antoinette Ferdinand


Glad tidings

More letters to the editor * Does Christ's spirit dwell with us today? * An encounter with peace * Those eternal train delays * Dying man's wish * Woes of a suffering pensioner from Jaffna district

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