At a time when we have water-tight evidence that global warming is increasing and is the main cause of unprecedented thunderstorms, gales, cyclones and floods in most countries including Sri Lanka, the Government needs to act effectively in implementing eco-friendly measures in all areas.
One of these areas is the boom in the number of motor vehicles with carbon dioxide emissions increasing to such levels that not only has the ozone layer being depleted but also millions of people are being forced to breathe polluted air. Latest figures show that more than 60 percent of the people in Sri Lankan cities and urban areas are suffering from respiratory ailments ranging from the wheeze to lung cancer. One chest consultant said the number of patients coming to him had trebled in recent times.
Instead of trying to reduce air-pollution in every way possible including incentives for those using bicycles with acclamations to Wolley Bastian’s Babi Aachchi the Government is reported to be preparing a gazette notification to allow the use of superpower 1000 CC motor bikes on the roads. In addition to other problems the Police Traffic Chief himself says this move might lead to more road tragedies at a time when seven road deaths are reported every day, with at least one of them involving motor bikes.
Hour-long traffic jams at peak hours in the mornings and evenings are also causing more pollution, a wastage of fuel and precious time besides the stress and strain of jamming and jamming the brakes. Many motorists say they are coming to a breakdown point not so much of their vehicles but of their minds because of having to languish for hours in traffic snarls.
In recent months the Daily Mirror published two editorials on the traffic crisis in Colombo, and we are glad the authorities appear to have responded positively. We had proposed that the roundabout opposite Lake House be removed as it was a hindrance to the traffic flow and that it be reduced in size or replaced with traffic lights.
Last month, this roundabout garden was totally levelled, leaving just a tall light post in the centre of this island. The problem was however that this beautiful garden roundabout was a hindrance to the traffic flow as it caused a bottleneck where the traffic had to be controlled by policemen during the rush hours. These traffic policemen would have been deafened by the constant blowing of their own whistles, while compelled to inhale the smoke and dust throughout the long hours they were exposed to the pollution when they did their shifts in the hot sun. The cost in terms of fuel that was burnt in patiently waiting for the turn to navigate past this roundabout would have been more than 1 million rupees a day while the sheer frustration suffered by the motorist in the delay involved cannot be quantified.
We now await the next move of the road authorities and it is our hope that the traffic lights will replace the Lake House roundabout and will also be set up instead of the roundabout on Galle Road adjacent to Galle Face Hotel. It must however, be emphasised that these traffic lights must be fine tuned to ensure that they coincide with the movement of traffic from Lotus Road as otherwise the present exercise in replacing the roundabout will be futile.
We are grateful to the authorities who have acted this way and we hope that the people will be consulted on the much wanted rehabilitation of roads in and around Colombo.