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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2736

Sri Lankan Roads Are The Most Dangerous In The World

By L. Jayasooriya

I have not driven on all the roads in the world but have driven in Europe, Canada and some parts of America. Based on that experience I can say that I have not seen any road more dangerous than our roads.

If materially advanced countries have safe roads then why is it that or roads are the most dangerous in the world? There has to be a reason for that and I say that the primary reason is the IGP. This letter is by no means comprehensive because it can never be in this limited space.

Let me first deal with the primary reason. I am not referring to the present IGP. I do not even know his name. I am referring to all IGPs that have come and gone and keep coming up and having gone.

In these modern days of the computer and the availability of software has the IGP kept comprehensive statistical data with regard to road accidents and death or injury for the various classes of roads and their locations including the times they have occurred? If he has not, then he has not kept the data that is vital to attack the problem we have. Has he checked whether the fines for traffic offences are appropriate in the context of today? If for example the fine for speeding is 50 rupees does he think that the law will operate and if not has he told about the need to revise the fines to the President to whom he has direct access? What does he think of dangerous overtaking that could result in a head-on collision? Has he done anything about it?

He has more than enough police to set speed traps along all “A” class roads in the whole country. Supposing he sets an adequate number of speed traps to make all drivers aware that there could be a speed trap anywhere but not necessarily at the same place, does he think that he will be able to control the speed when he knows fully well that it is not difficult to bribe? Would he employ CID men posing as traffic offenders to catch them in the act of accepting a bribe and would he interdict such police officers and dismiss them on conviction and charge them further in courts of law if the law permits?

Does the IGP think that if he were to implement all the above he would have made our roads any safer? I say ‘NO’ Mr. IGP for the very simple reason that there are enough people who are prepared to pay on the spot fines to the government because there have the money to do so and besides there are limitations that courts will impose on the fines. For years and years and years which we in Sri Lanka call ‘donkeys years’, Europe, America and Canada had a system called a demerit point system in which every traffic offence carries with it a number of points called demerit points usually 2 or 3 for a given period of say 2 or 3 years and when the points accumulated exceeds 10 or 12 depending on the country the driver loses his licence for 6 months or one year again depending on the country. Any driver caught driving during the disqualified period goes to Jail and not to Merchants Ward and that is assured.

Finally has the IGP ever checked in his life what is happening at a pedestrian crossing? In every country in the world the pedestrian crossing is the safest place to cross but does the IGP know that in Sri Lanka the pedestrian crossing is the most dangerous place to cross the road? Has he ever apprehended motorists who drive dangerously across a pedestrian crossing when people are on the crossing?

Many more things can be done to make the roads in this country safe but one last thing. Why not have a written test on the highway-code before a person can qualify for the driving test? Does the IGP think that the private bus drivers know that there is a thing called a highway code? Does he think that a private bus driver knows how to control the clutch? Does he know that a standing passenger gets thrown violently forward and backwards whenever the driver changes the gears or brakes? Does he ralize that under such diving conditions a passenger who enters a bus with a shopping bag cannot afford to release his other hand to find a seat until the bus comes to a halt and if he stands the conductor yells at him ordering him to sit?

I said that there are two reasons. The other reason for this mess is the RDA that is responsible for the compete thrombosis on all our roads primarily because they have not enforced a building line within which no building can be put up and people have built right up to the kerb on all the roads in this country. You saw what they did to the Moratuwa-Panadura road where people built right up to the kerb. They built a 2 lane bridge near the Wellawatta railway station for the four lane Marine drive. The list goes on.

- Asian Tribune -

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