Some UPFA worthies are faulting the previous government for its deplorable omissions and commissions as if it were a UNP regime. The new Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena, who made a hullabaloo over the sorry state of affairs in the health sector characterised by chronic shortages of drugs and equipment, acted as though his predecessor had been a UNPer. In so doing, he opened a can of worms for not only his ministerial chum Nimal Siripala de Silva but also the entire UPFA government. He has not made any public statements on the situation in the health ministry for some time and one wonders whether he has got orders from on high to keep his trap shut without embarrassing the government with his `revelations`.
Secretary of Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has lashed out at the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and the local government institutions for the unholy mess the country finds itself in owing to rains. They are lethargic, he says. One cannot but agree with him. Flash floods in the city and other urban areas are easily avoidable if the local government bodies etc make a serious effort. But, the fact remains that most local government institutions and the UDA have been under the UPFA s control. And, therefore, the incumbent government ought to own up to its failure during its previous tenure to put in place necessary infrastructure to facilitate the flow of storm water. The Road Development Authority (RDA) should take the blame for the arteries that run through the low-lying suburbs of Colombo being submerged even during a few hours of rain.
That the Katunayake-Colombo `highway` linking the international airport to the city is prone to floods is known to one and all. Many UPFA politicos take that road because they are more abroad than here. They have not given a damn about the condition of that vital roadway as they and their kith and kin have at their disposal choppers to rush to and from the airport during floods. Former Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake has been shuttling between his electorate and the city along the Colombo-Horana road, which is one of the most neglected roads in the country. There are many other UPFA politicians who use that roadway daily but none of them cared to have it rehabilitated. Minister Gamini Lokuge has, all of a sudden, risen from his slumber and is going hell for leather to have a section of that road repaired obviously in a bid to avoid public wrath. The same goes for most roadways in Colombo`s suburbs and elsewhere.
The government has launched a grandiose project to make Sri Lanka Asia`s miracle. The question is how it could dream of achieving that lofty goal when it cannot keep Colombo`s roads open for vehicular traffic during a shower. The UPFA has been controlling the CMC for several years and the latter`s failure is naturally the former s responsibility. The government`s criticism of the UDA, municipalities, urban councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas for the widespread chaos on public roads etc, due to rains and floods is tantamount to a self-indictment!
If the government thinks it can fool the public by making scapegoats of institutions under its purview, it is mistaken. It should stop trying to hoodwink the irate people, admit its failure and get its act together. If what prevents the government from developing drainage systems and roads in the city and other urban areas is money, a wag suggests that President Mahinda Rajapaksa take a leaf out of his Maldivian counterpart`s book and hold underwater Cabinet meetings to attract international media attention and make a strong case for more foreign funds for infrastructural development. Ideal place for that purpose will be the Reid Avenue near the Colombo University during a downpour with naval craft providing security. (Water that collects in areas like Kotahena during showers may be too deep and dangerous!)
What the exasperated people wading through dirty water neck deep on public roads expect of the government is not a host of lame excuses but prompt action to develop the dilapidated drainage systems, blocked canals and roads in a state of disrepair. Else, the government may be in for a rude shock at the next local government elections which are popularly known as kaanu-bokku-chande (drain and culvert polls).