Sri Lankan families from outstations have been flocking to the Jaffna district via the A9 highway after the government eased restrictions on civlian transport on the main road linking the peninsula to the south.
Hotels and restaurants in the Jaffna city are cashing in from the sudden demand as curious visitors from the south make their to Jaffna in private vehicles and public transport.
"A delicious vegetarian (rice and curry) lunch in the city costs only Rs80 and the quality is much better than Colombo," commented a traveller. Restaurants serving Jaffna seafood are also benefiting from the influx of travellers.
The CTB and private transport operators have also launched night bus services to cope with the growing demand.
The historic pond in the sacred area of Keerimalai and beaches in Karainagar and Chatti (near Velanai) are special attractions for fun-loving travellers from the south. The number of pilgrims to the Buddhist and Hindu places of worship has also increased in recent days.
Although the sacred area of Keerimalai is inside the high security zone, security forces have eased curbs on people visiting the historic pond and Naguleswaram temple.
Motorists are also being urged by the military and police to avoid speeding on the A9 highway between Mirusuvil and Omanthai checkpoints.
The military police is on alert at Omanthai checkpoint is on alert to check whether private vehicles arriving from the north are carrying members of security forces soldiers in civilian dress.
A Colombo resident who travelled from Jaffna to Colombo on Sunday with his family said a soldier stopped his vehicle in near Kilinochchi and asked for a lift to Colombo.
The timid family reluctantly refused the request and realised later in Omanthai that they made the right decision when the military police at the checkpoint there queried them whether they were carrying any military personnel.
There are also a few instances of police personnel harassing Colomb-Jaffna drivers for alleged traffic offences. Drivers allegedly operating private vehicles without a ‘route permit’ for public transport between Jaffna and Colombo may face toruble, said sources.
Civilians, however, are pleased that land transport between Colombo and Jaffna has become hassle-free in recent days and security forces are more courteous towards them at checkpoints.
Jaffna Tamils hope the situation would improve further after this month’s Presidential elections.