Why the IGP is Slow in Taming Private Bus Drivers on the Issue of Road Accidents
Posted on April 1st, 2012

by Dr. Chandana Jayalath

 According to how we hear and listen, nearly 60,000 road accidents are reported annually in Sri Lanka, of which at least 2,200 are fatal. Each 10 minutes a road accident is reported and at least a one person dies in each 4 hours. On latest the 1 April, 11 innocent people were dead. The National Council for Road Safety statistics reveals that road accidents is the number one killer among people in the 15 to 29 age group in Sri Lanka. The three decades from 1977 to 2007 recorded 1,120,848 accidents, 40,000 deaths, 370,000 injuries and 68,440 serious injuries. The annual social cost of road traffic injuries in Sri Lanka runs to over Rs. 10 billion, and the trend is upwards.

 Still some Omini bus drivers openly engage in races. Particularly, those travelling in Omni bus espouse a mind-set of “ƒ”¹…”coming first’ with the support of two more “ƒ”¹…”drivers’ waving hands standing at the footboard. This is often seen at Colombo Kandy, Colombo Galle and Colombo Anuradhapura and T’male bus sectors, giving fore-signals to drivers coming opposite that there is Police on duty. Even in driving rashly on the wrong side of the road and in red lights (where in many countries a criminal offence) it is an irony that even the passengers traveling on the bus tend to support the driver to get the bus released that will help them to go home early. Another side of the storey is that those driving in long run for instance Trincomale to Colombo are taking liquor and drugs at points they stop-over for meals. Pedestrians on the other hand seem to consider roads as their private domain walking across any road at any time from any place without paying any heed to moving traffic. Yellow lines are a licence to them to cross roads at any time, obliviously risking their own lives. Therefore, it is no secret that the number of road accidents is increasing by leaps and bounds.

 It would be far more effective therefore to have a traffic patrol officer as a bystander at such points of operation to penalize an offender or chase after an errant motorist who does not obey the road rules. Unlike in other countries where mobile traffic patrol squads on motor cycles and police panda cars have the powers to indict offenders, Sri Lankan patrol squads are not seen engaged in the same tasks but seen rather escorting VIPs. The best solution would be for the police personnel to travel upto some distance in civil dress code similarly as passengers and prosecute the irresponsible on the spot allowing no time for political influx into the legal process. More than any other source it is public responsibility that should take first to discourage not necessarily fast driving but uncontrollable reckless driving. It is a shame to see a bus wrong side overtaking in day time while all the other vehicles queuing in traffic on the Colombo Kandy road for example even without fear of being taken into custody. And. more over is the 119 just a post office? as we do not see anyone is stopped and questioned on the spot or at least within the next 10 kilometers, as a result of complaints over the mobile phones.

 Under circumstances, it is high time the police changed its tactics to tame the ruthless. On the other hand it is time entire Omni bus service sector underwent a comprehensive revamping process including minimum qualifications for new drivers, proper training by licensed instructors, educating on public rights, law and procedures, constant vigilance on violations, periodical tests on medical fitness, licensing the job profile, introduction of a uniform for both the driver and conductor. Such steps must be made inevitable since Omni bus is a significant public service in Sri Lanka so as to avoid reckless driving at least to some extent, boost up discipline and evolve occupational recognition.

 Apart from traditional Police standing at permanent points for longer hours, different initiatives must be taken. The general public wishes the IGP of Sri Lanka all the courage to do it without any further delay. A life is one time and no more. No one wants an untimely death. It is not merely of some importance but is of fundamental importance, that justice should not only be seen, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done. Taming bus drivers will cure the matter by more than 75%.

6 Responses to “Why the IGP is Slow in Taming Private Bus Drivers on the Issue of Road Accidents”

  1. AnuD Says:

    See the number of fatal accidents and count the accidents that were not fatal but disabled people for life and the cost for all these.

    This is all govt poor planning and the lack of vision.

    Just like Japan, Sri Lanka also should support mass transit and not individual transport. We don’t see Sri Lanka doing that. Instead, as soon as the war was over. Sri Lanka imported vehicles to fill the roads. Now, what ever the foreign exchange they have they have spent on Oil until the govt go bankrupt.

    Sri Lanka as a small country and as an environmentally conscious country and as a country concerned of it’s peoples’ health should have had a national transport policy. Instead, Politicians work as they wish.

    Japan is not the only country, there are richer countries in the European block which give priority to mass transit and other methods of transport other than the car.

    Only Sri Lanka is not capable of doing that.

  2. AnuD Says:

    Everybody knows Sri Lankan Law enforcement is blind to drug dealers and many law breakers if they have money and power.

  3. Dham Says:

    Our traffic police is busy collecting bribes.
    I am writing on my own experience. Many times I go caught “crossing the continuous devider line”. However every time I crossed was when overtaking a very slow vehicle but I started to cross when the line was dotted, which is legal. What they say is the line mraked dotted is a mistake. As I do not wnat to go back 100 km to collect the licence, I offered them Rs 500 which they accepted readily. They always wait at spots where this can happen, so that they can collect Jarawa.
    It is so easy to catch these bastards , you just behave like another driver only.
    IGP must be a Jarah king.

  4. Kamal Says:

    PPlease don’t blame the Police. This is the best police service in the world, according to them.
    Have you not noticed that the policemen are doing their duty to their own satisfaction?
    The go about in official transport breaking all the road rule as they are not being prosecuted. They stand by the road watching the road rules are being violated and do nothing about. The complaints they take to courts fail as the procedure is wrong for which they are well rewarded. I have seen a policeman hanging around a pavement fruit business most of the time on duty. He is watching it with interest on duty.
    I have seen a Policeman crossing the road at a pedestrian crossing on his motor cycle., carrying a passengers without a head protection, while the other policemen on the way side saluting him. They were on duty, respecting a senior officer.

    WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?

  5. shenali Says:

    It is not only the police who are to blame. People lack fundamental discipline on the road. Pedestrians are no better.
    As for police they are often on duty for long hours in the hot sun without even anything to drink – the military has a better method of roster. Perhaps the IGP should look into this.
    There is often a belief that when cops are on the road the traffic flow is made far worse – this if true means that there is little coordination between the officers which can easily be rectified with some training.
    As re the accidents most of these are either tippers/trucks/buses or luxury vehicles who care not for even the police because they are influential people… if they break the law how can an ordinary policemen even charge these people?
    It appears that from top down things need to change.

  6. Dham Says:

    Shenali,
    top down I agree. But Sri lanka Police is a disgrace to manking. I did not belive this until I experience myself. They even tell you where to put the money ! Rather than trying to discipline people these desapaluvos want to become fat.

    How can we as a nation improve if top to bottom are corrupted ?

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