SUNDAY OBSERVER Sunday Observer - Magazine
Sunday, 4 August 2002  
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Terror on highways

The current terror on highways could make the blood of even the most placid person boil and much has been written on this subject during the past few days due to an unprecedented spate of fatal accidents.

Stringent disciplinary measures to put things right in the private bus sector specially among the inter-city crews has been a long felt need.

They appear to be incorrigible. Inveterate tooting of horns and the noise emanating from reviving engines are another menace. It is also noise pollution which could be classified as a health hazard.

School vans are another public nuisance specially in the City of Colombo and the suburbs.

These speed fiends race one another at terrifying speed to reach the destination in time. They disregard all traffic rules with impunity and care less for the safety of other road users.

There is still another category who take the wheel having imbibed inebriating spirits. Even residual alcohol in the system could make a person unsteady. Random Breathalyser Tests should be carried out to detect this type of offenders.

Still another contributory factor is the unroadworthy motor vehicles that ply on the highways.

These vehicles wobble and dodder belching black fumes thereby causing environmental pollution. They also cause congestion exacerbating the rest of the road users. These vehicles must necessarily be put out of the road.

It would be ideal to introduce an islandwide speed limit such as 60 KMP. The other alternative is to put up speed limit indicators as warranted on both sides of the road conspicuously for approaching vehicles.

This of course involves financial implications which could be entrusted to the local authorities.

It would also be useful to introduce heavy spot-fines for motorists violating road rules. An alternative ruse would be to introduce a demerit point system on the Driving Licence. Motorists who amass a specific number of points within a specified period (may be one or two years as deemed necessary) could be subject to a suspension of the licence for a given period. Of course Traffic Police should be given a free hand in dealing with errant motorists.

Traffic Police in mufti could be better enforcers of the law than their uniformed counterparts. Double standards in dealing with the influential gentry on the one hand and the hapless plebes on the other should be done away with pronto.

All errant drivers should be treated on an equal footing hauled up before law courts and indicted. This procedure seems to be the only solution to alleviate the suffering of the harried public.

Nanda Nanayakkara , 
Matara

Correct Buddhist era

In the Sunday Observer of 21.7.2002 page 33, Mr. Aryadasa Ratnasinghe had written on the historical importance of Esala full moon day for Buddhists all over the world. It was the day the Buddha as Prince Siddhartha made the great renunciation in search of the truth.

Mr. Ratnasinghe writes that it took place on the Esala full moon night in 594 BC (2596 years ago). It is based on the Buddhist era 544 BC. According to the Mahavamsa the consecration of Emperor Asoka took place 218 years after the Buddha's demise or in 326 BC. In the year 323 BC Alexander the Great died on his way back from India. It clearly proves that Alexander the Great and Emperor Asoka were contemporaries under the Buddhist era 544 BC, under which Buddhist history is written.

But in world history Asoka's grandfather Chandragupta was the contemporary of Alexander the Great. Asoka was not even born at that time.

This is the tragedy and the comedy of Sri Lanka's Buddhist and Sinhala history which is ridiculous according to world historians. Will any historian or chronology expert help us to get at the truth as this is a legal requirement too.

R. S. DIAS, 
Colombo 12.

Rampant dishonesty in the Postal Department

It is a well-known fact that most parcels and packets addressed to local residents by their relatives abroad, reach Sri Lanka, but not the addresses, These items vanish without trace, like ships and planes disappearing without trace within the Bermuda Trangle, and no amount of complaints to the P.M.G. would help either the recovery of the lost items or end the continuous disappearance of such items.

The reasons for these thefts are as follows:- The Postal personnel in Sri Lanka are aware that senders of all parcel and packets from abroad and which are unregistered have to make a declaration that no valuable items have been enclosed even though they do enclose a letter with cash or some valuables in kind, in the said parcels/packets. The local postal authorities are aware of this and boldly open such packages, steal the valuables/cash, and either destroy the package, or deliver it sans the valuables, or destroy the entire package.

When a complaint is lodged with the local Postal authorities of the loss of a packet with valuables the Postal authorities quote the declaration made by the sender abroad, that no valuables were enclosed and the matter ends with a resounding victory to the thief, as the sender is unable to press the case having violated the law, which has enabled the local postal vultures to become millionaires/billionaires stealing other people's property.

I write this for the general information of all concerned having been a victim myself last year. It would be appropriate to inform all relatives abroad not to send any valuables through the post as our postal services is so squeaky honest, but by any other means. This is a country where even grave stones are being robbed from graves in Cemeteries. For the population to be able to avail themselves of an honest and reliable Postal Service, the Postal Service should be privatised, as at present there are too many employees with too little work to do, and Satan has found profitable work for the idle hands to do.

G.M.C. Bartholomeusz , 
Peradeniya

RADARs and UFOs

The word radar is derived from the expression Radio Detection and Ranging. As per this good old definition, radio waves are used to detect the presence of a target and to determine its distance or range. But this description for radar is no more hundred per cent correct since a host of new radar applications can be seen in many fields starting from simple height finders to space radars. The invention of microwave components and computer technology should take a good part of the credit for this rapid development in the field of radar.

As radar development moves along its course heading towards more sophisticated versions, the United States have designed and manufactured aircraft, which are undetectable even for the latest radar systems. These aircraft are said to be with radar stealthy characteristics.

Their designs are purely achieved by manipulating the radar cross section (RCS), which will depend upon the size, material, shape and aspect of the objects. Many of the experts in relevant field around the world have revealed that technologically advanced civilization can exist in the universe. Therefore nobody can clearly rule out that these intelligent beings are not capable of fabricating flying objects with radar stealthy characteristics. If such objects exist, they can discreetly enter into our airspace by fooling man made global radar systems watching out for foreign objects in our skies. So it is reasonable for Sri Lankans to pose questions about the flying object seen around Polonnaruwa area.

Is it a spacecraft discreetly flown into our airspace from a habitable planet or a man-made flying machine? Nobody can exactly answer this question till it turns out to be an IFO.

Sqn Ldr I. A. H. Wijegunawardane , 
Sri Lanka Air Force

Sign-boards for prevention of accidents

There have been in many areas increasing deaths of and damage to human beings and also loss and damage in respect of valuable vehicles and other property arising out of road traffic misadventures. This state of affairs is due mainly to impatience, indiscipline, incompetence, drunkenness and/or lack of alertness on the part of a considerable number of drivers of the plethora of various vehicles, which often move at almost formidable speed. There have also been careless pedestrians who have contributed to grievous faults.

It is time that the Traffic Police should review the dimensions and the quality of its set-up and operations with a view to improving its activities to meet the challenging task. Some strategy that will keep reminding daily all road users of the gravity of their responsibilities has to be adopted to minimize the rate and severity of accidents. Towards that end this writer strongly recommends that there should be erected at or near the likely vulnerable spots (e.g. school/university gates abutting roads) large sign-boards depicting on each such board some horrid scene drawn from accidents that have already occurred. There have been plenty of them shown over the television and the print media from time to time. As human memories are short pictured sign-boards as suggested above will be constant reminders to people to be more vigilant.

In this regard the insurers will stand to benefit considerably if and when the measure indicated above is implemented. In the circumstances the companies and corporations undertaking insurance and advised to move in the matter to set apart some of their propaganda funds for installation of sign-boards for prominent display with pictures of nasty accidents to warn motorists and the public, some of whom are their clients. The country has plenty of competent picture artists who could be engaged for the purpose.

Furthermore it is hoped that the suggestions made above will receive the active consideration of the authorities and other citizens, who have at heart the safety of the nation and its properties. It is necessary that the central, provincial and local government authorities and also the school and university heads should give particular attention and take follow up action.

D. Kuruneru , 
Moratuwa

www.eagle.com.lk

Sampathnet

Crescat Development Ltd.

www.priu.gov.lk

www.helpheroes.lk


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