Who says miracles are not possible on this blessed isle? We have seen quite a few of them happen of late, haven`t we? A new bridge has been built at Raththanapitiya within days. Some roads in Colombo`s suburbs are being given a veneer of tar. CMC freeloaders are seen attending to clogged drains neglected for years. A section of Colombo is being spruced up rapidly. Whoever imagined such things in this part of the country?
These are miracles all right. But, however welcome they may be, sadly they have the trappings of ad hoc remedies. Take for example how the Katunayake-Colombo Road is being done up. It now looks a highly made up granny bedridden with arthritis, osteoporosis and what not! It is being given a new coat of tar in some places the way the granny powders her wrinkled face. The median strips along it are being re-painted in bright colours and zebra crossings re-marked. The only thing road repairers have apparently not used in giving that artery a new look is boot polish! What those responsible for this sudden facelift apparently refuse to see is the pressing need for a new roadway linking BIA and Colombo for the people to travel to and from the airport free from congestion and floods. How can a country aspire to development when its only international airport becomes inaccessible during heavy showers?
It is heartening that Colombo`s drainage system is being attended to at long last. Better late than never! (It is quite an achievement for the government to have made some CMC workers do their job, though it must be ashamed of having had to use prison labour too for that purpose! Worse, the police have been deployed to supervise gangs of CMC workers!) But, as the Chief City Administrator says, the existing drainage system was designed to cater to a population of about 80,000 over 70 years ago under the British. Today, there are over 700,000 residents in Colombo. So, nobody could wish away the need for a modern drainage system to solve the problem of floods in Colombo once and for all. Likewise, the Raththanapitiya new bridge will solve only one-eighths of the problem the people who use the Colombo-Horana road are faced with. That road gets submerged at eight places between Kohuwala and Piliyandala. Raththanapitiya is only one of them! Moreover, we hope that the new bridge put up in a hurry won`t go the same way as the jerrybuilt ones collapsing or about to crash on the Colombo-Matara Expressway, which is under construction!
What`s the reason for the government`s high octane performance as regards the on-going project to `beautify` the Katunayake-Colombo road and some parts of the city? The answer is only too well known. It is IIFA, which is as magical as Ali Baba`s password, `Open Sesame` at least where Sri Lanka is concerned! Anything Indian works miracles here, doesn`t it?
So, henceforth, we must stop genuflecting before hoity-toity government worthies or deities to have our potholed and waterlogged roads repaired. We could appeal to our celluloid hero Amitabh Bachchan across the Palk Straits to bring a galaxy of Indian stars here every month and have shows in all parts of the country. And, hey presto, all roads will get repaired, drains cleared and other infrastructural facilities put in place in record time! If that could be done, the whole country would be as developed as Hambantota before long. Please, Amitabh think of us and come here regularly with Bollywood celebs in tow!
Long live IIFA!