Even though the terrorism perpetrated by the LTTE ended in May 2009 an equally devastating form of terrorism seems to be continuing unabated countrywide.
This could be termed road terrorism.
During the worst days of the LTTE a Sri Lankan working in Canada and coming on a holiday to Colombo was asked whether he was not afraid of the LTTE’s terrorism.
He responded that what he feared more was the traffic terrorism on the highways and byways of Colombo, the suburbs and other parts of the country.
According to the latest police statistics nearly 500 people were killed in about 470 road tragedies up to March this year with the total number of accidents being about 2220.
The figures in April may be more because of the New Year festivities during which drunk driving is known to increase despite pleas and warnings year after year.
Overall figures show that seven people are killed everyday in road tragedies with the main causes being recklessness, exhaustion, drunk driving, disobeying road rules and ignoring traffic signals.
Last Friday a private bus crashed into a bus stand at the Koswatta junction brought down a high tension electricity post and crashed onto the wall of the Thalangama Hospital, killing many. Among those killed were the mother and the father of a child who was seriously injured.
The accident left the child’s family and life ruined due to the recklessness of one person who apparently was greedy for a few rupees.
Private bus operators specially must be made aware that they are allowed to operate for the benefit of the people and not just to make big profits. Some private bus owners are known to install more seats in the buses leaving little leg rooms for passengers and when the buses are overcrowded with people clinging even to the foot board it is like hell on the highway for passengers.
Every time you sit on the driving seat and take the wheel remember that you are taking responsibility for your life, the passengers and others on the road. If it is a bus there may be more than 60 people including children. Also remember when you sit at the driving seat that you are responsible for the lives of all the people whom you will pass on the roads and highways including pedestrians and those on the sidewalks. If you take this sacred oath seriously you will drive with much more responsibility and will not be responsible for any deaths and injuries.
While we hope that after Vesak, drivers would be much more responsible, the traffic police also need to act more effectively and ensure that traffic regulations are applied to all irrespective of any political affiliation. During the past few years VIP families and those who have political links to them are known to have got away with serious offences and the red light must be flashed on this immediately.
With people suffering so much and so many committing suicide due to the soaring cost of living and other factors, we again appeal to drivers to take a sacred vote on this day after the thrice blessed Vesak Poya.