Reveal record of crackdown on road killers
The Inspector General of Police, Mr. Lakdasa Kodituwakku, should make a detailed statement on the recent action taken by the police against killers on the highways. In the past few weeks, the media has been highlighting the gruesome and tragic killings of the members of the public by motorists, particularly drivers of private buses.
Yesterday, the newspapers reported the killing of a 13- year old schoolgirl by a private bus at Negombo. She had been run over while she was being taken on the pillion of her fathers bicycle to school. It was on her thirteenth birthday.
Accidents do happen but the question that arises is whether the traffic police are implementing traffic laws, particularly on categories of drivers who have become notorious killers on the highways.
Whoever is at fault in the accident at Negombo, it raises the question whether the police now consider pillion riding an offence. Two to three decades ago, pillion riding was considered an offence because it resulted in the rider of the cycle having little control of the bicycle. Is this rule being enforced by the police or not or is there such a rule now in existence? An even more hair-raising sight is a whole family on a motorcycle father with the mother and children at times numbering two to three but the police do not seem to be aware of the dangers involved or are unconcerned.
Todays traffic policemen are a happy band in smart uniforms and gleaming motor cycles who are either not expected to strictly enforce the law or a are simply not worried about bothering themselves to check errant motorists or just plain dumb and do not know very much about traffic laws. After much hue and cry was raised about the slaughter of innocents by private bus drivers in recent times, increased numbers of traffic policemen were seen on roads but are not doing much to nab the most dangerous of the tribe private bus drivers. Jampacked buses with the doors not closed, passengers on the footboard while the bus careers on the highway zig- zagging and the traffic policemen looking on unconcerned, is very common feature.
Policemen, however, are very much on the alert to nab car drivers by far the lesser evil for minor offences like jumping traffic lights by a split second while the maniacs behind wheels continue to race each other from bus stop to bus stop.
We have pointed out that traffic policemen standing on pavements is not the way to bring these drivers to book, but that there should be mobile patrols following such vehicles and traffic policemen in mufti within buses. Most buses are said to be owned by high police officials or such retired police officials under false names and the indulgence shown by the police is attributed to the power and influence of these officials.
Whether these allegations are true or not, the system itself needs radical change. Bus drivers are compelled to drive like racing drivers because they have to pay back each day a substantial amount to owners and earn for themselves as well. Re-organisation of the private bus services is being considered but the bureaucrats of the state are not in a hurry as the bus drivers are and it will take quite a while for changes to be made.
Meanwhile, the police have no other alternative but to crack down on the maniacs behind wheels. The public should be told by the IGP how many such errant drivers have been nabbed, according to the categories of vehicles, the fines imposed and the numbers produced in courts. Merely declaring war on errant drivers will not do.
Our much-maligned public servants have broken a world record though, perhaps, unwittingly. This has been revealed by a Brahmin of the tribe, Mr. Bradman Weerakoon, a member of the former Civil Service, who himself has broken a world record by being secretary to four prime ministers.
There are 3.1 public servants to every 1000 citizens, he says, pointing out to the World Bank observation that there are 700,000 public servants. And this ratio is the highest in Asia, he says. We surmise that it is the highest in the world because in the west the ratio is far less.
Whether the old colonial term public servant is appropriate in the context of the times is questionable because today from the potty peon to the ministry secretary, all consider themselves as Lords and act as Lords to whom the public has to pay obeisance.
Logically with this ratio of 3.1 per 1000 of the population we will expect the worlds best service being extended to the public, but unfortunately this does not seem to happen because public servants themselves realise on retirement that it takes months and even years for them to have their pensions authorised and paid. Of course, this does not happen to top brass in the public service, we are told.
This easy paced, lordly attitude of public servants, it has to be appreciated, could be because they may be creating other world records by themselves, also quite unwittingly. If the World Bank does get their whiz kids in tracing the numbers of days our public servants take as half-day leave, short leave, medical leave, maternity leave and French leave, undoubtedly our boys and girls in the public service would be in for many other world records.
Unfortunately, we Sri Lankans have the inclination to pull the rug under the feet of our world record breakers. Remember what happened to Susanthika Jayasinghe and what our Sports Ministry bureaucrats and others did?
Mr. Bradman Weerakoon and such high ranking bureaucrats seem to be doing just that because Mr. Weerakoon announced about this 3.1 ratio to 1000 people at a meeting of Th. Steering Committee of the Distance Education for Public Servants whose objectives are such as stimulating the thinking amongst public servants to change outdated attitudes and adopting methods to be more creative and proactive in dealing with their day- to -day activities. Such thinking will certainly not be conducive to creating records such as telegrams reaching the destination months or years after dispatch or pensions of government servants being approved after their death. We may even lose the record of 3.1 public servants for every 1000 of the population.
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