So earlier today, the second expressway of Sri Lanka was declared opened by the meritorious hands of his excellency the president, Mahinda Rajapaksa. (There, I said it exactly the way a news-presenter on ITN news would have done!) While this is all very good, (although I have no reason to rejoice, non of the highways cater to my convenience!) I have a multitude of questions to raise!
First, it is no secret that all this rush completing the highway was simply because of the upcoming CHOGM. Yet, can it simply justify the inconvenience this caused daily to the thousands of ordinary passengers not driving Lamborghinis or Porsche Panameras? I myself has spent three hours travelling a mere 18 km by bus and 1 and a half hours by car. Would it have cost someone a limb to get this done over a reasonable period of time minimizing the chaos caused? Is it simply impossible to get someone with common sense to supervise the ordeals of the construction work? (Speaking of common sense, it has been well proved now that them traffic Policemen of Sri Lanka has an IQ well below that of a toddler! They seem to be operating with the firm belief that their job is to create traffic as much as possible contrary to actually reducing it!). Let bygones be bygones one might say. But the work of our next expressway, Kandy – Colombo (Yey! I can make it to Colombo in less than 15 minutes once this is completed!) has already begun and one can only hope that this, unlike that, will be done smoothly. But then again, our history of road construction projects precede all hope.It would indeed be almost a miracle, if such smooth work is to be true!
Again, having witnessed the opening ceremony, (I honestly don’t if calling that thing a ceremony is an understatement!) I can’t help it but to question, was that actually necessary? There were delegates from China, a country where everything is now made and who had also funded the entire project. I’m sure the lengths to which we went to exaggerate the opening of the expressway would’ve taken those Chinese fellows by surprise! Elephant races? Expressway walks? Music concerts? Gigantic cutouts? The cost incurred by those alone would have funded a refurbishment of dozen schools! When will our politicians learn to be humble and modest? Modesty can go a long way! simple ceremony would’ve done the trick. but hey, if we don’t exaggerate everything, where’s the typical Sri Lankan touch eh?
Finally, I honestly don’t see this expressway helping the masses of daily commuters! 300 Rs for lightweight vehicles and 600 for the heavy vehicles! For a commuter by a car, who’s traveling back and forth 5 days a week, for weeks a month, the cost alone would amount to a massive 12000 Rs. So clearly, this expressway is aimed at the occasional users of the Airport and the incoming flocks of foreigners. While this is a massive boost for the tourism industry, this on the views of a common man, is yet another expensive utility. So far, no plans of passenger bus services operating in the highway for a modest cost has been announced and one can only hope that soon enough, there would be one.
However, the drama has concluded and the curtains have been closed. How this highway would fair is for time to tell. Nevertheless, here’s a sigh of relief forgetting the countless hours I’ve wasted as a commuter because of the expressway work.
Till the next time,