UNP blames police, Motor Traffic Dept. corruption for increase in fatal accidents


By Saman Indrajith

The UNP yesterday demanded in Parliament to know from the government what steps it would take to arrest the increase in road accidents in the country.

Acting Opposition Leader John Amaratunga, making a special statement in Parliament, said that the police were enforcing traffic laws in a lackadaisical manner and the Motor Traffic Department, too, should be held responsible for rampant corruption in issuing driving licences.

Full text of the statement made by MP Amaratunga: "The Sinhala and Tamil New Year holidays have seen an unprecedented and alarming rise in traffic accidents. Over a short period of just ten days, well over 80 people are reported to have died as a result of these accidents. According to sources at the Police Traffic Headquarters, the number of deaths during the last decade due to vehicle accidents had amounted to 24,001 and the number injured have been over 60,000.

"It is obvious that something appears terribly amiss in the issue of driving and riding licences. Apparently no proper test is done and in some instances it appears that driving and riding licenses are issued without even a test.

"The blame in this instance lies squarely on the shoulders of the Motor Traffic Department. There also appears to be numerous incidents of negligent driving and drunk driving. In this case, blame will lie with the Police Department for lackadaisical manner in which traffic laws are enforced.

"In both Departments, corruption also seems to play a part. I wish to ask the Government what steps both in the short term and long term they intend to take to arrest this alarming trend."

Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne responding to the acting opposition leader said that a comparison of records indicated that the number of traffic accidents had come down this year by 467 when compared to the previous New Year period. "But the number of deaths has increased by 11. The traffic police have taken short term action such as detailing traffic policemen round the clock, arresting drunk drivers, instituting legal action against speeding drivers, increasing awareness among three wheeler drivers, instructing the three wheeler drivers to fix a side door etc. In addition there are long term measures being taken such as to identify places vulnerable to traffic accidents and introducing alternative routes, discouraging drunk driving and implementing motor traffic laws with the assistance of sophisticated technology etc.

Transport Minister Kumar Welgama denied the allegation that driving and riding licenses were issued for money.

Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa instructed the minister to look into the standards of driving schools and their instructors.

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