The ugly side of Sri Lanka
Posted on February 3rd, 2012

Sarath Warnakulasuriya Sydney

During my recent visit to Sri Lanka, I was pleased to see the massive development projects taking place in the country.We were on a ten day tour that took us to Heritage Kandalama via Pinnawela elephant orphanage. From there we travelled to Sigiriya, Anuradhapura, Mihintale and Polonnaruwa.Our next stop was The Tea Factory fron where we travelled to Nuwara eliya and The World’s end in the Horton Planes.From there we went to Kandy spent a couple of nights and visited the Holy temple,the Peradeniya gardens etc.Our next stop was at Chaya Wild at Yala from where we visited the Yala national Parl and got back to Colombo on the Kottawa- Galle highway via Tissamaharama, Hambantota and Galle.
During this tour we saw the massive development projects in road works taking place. Since independence the country went backwords, but since my last visit in May 2009 I saw how clean and beautiful Colombo is. The roads leading to the parliament are beautiful, as good as in Singapore.
But the biggest dissapointment was when we visited the tourist attractions like the Elepahant orphanage at Pinnawela,the museum at Polonnaruwa,the rock temple at Dambulla, the restaurent at Tissamaharama and Sigiriya.The toilets were filthy and stinky.The male toilet at Polonnaruwa museum was smelling of stale urin, the bottom of the door was rotten and pices have fallen off.Even the toilets at the transit lounge at the airport was dirty and wet.Instead of mopping the floor, water was splashed everywhere. There was no toilet paper in the female toilet.The only restaurent in Tissamaharama where the jeeps were hired to Yala, had ony one male and one female toilet and were in the middle of the restaurent facing the diners and the bar.They were wet and could’nt flush as it took ages to fill because the water pressure was so low.Most of the so called “hotels” along the Galle road Colombo are filthy and should not be allowed to called hotels.There should be strict guidelines on basic hygine for these restaurents.
If Sri Lanka is going to depend heavily on tourism in it’s development plans, the basic human needs like decent toilet facilities, restaurents and transport facilites should be developed soon.It’s good to see some metered taxis and took tooks, but yet some  cab services are not very reliable.

11 Responses to “The ugly side of Sri Lanka”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    It is said that the state of a civilisation can be judged by their toilets ….
    High time Lanka improved on this aspect. Of course, our giant neighbor, India, has roadsides for toilet facilities. Are the habits to have poor toilet facilities coming from the neighbors ? Still, it is no excuse. Local materials should be used to have good toilet facilites, at least squatting pans, but please the floor should be dry and toilets clean, clean, clean.

  2. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    You must see toilets in India, oh boy!!!, they are so filthy that we couldn’t go closer. So we in India normally use road side stops and into Parippu plantation near by. Believe me, Sri Lanka is 10 times better. I am a regular visitor to Sri Lanka from England. But I have to admit that we also got this national problem, even in an average middle class house the toilets are kept in a filthy condition and always wet. Hre is a good recommendation. But If you are driving to Kandy, always use Ambepussa Rest House Road Side boutique. They have got the cleanest toilets among tourist stopover places in Sri Lanka. Bellihuloya Rest house is also one of the cleanest places for a cup of tea and using toilets. Otherwise wait until you reach your destination.

  3. Lorenzo Says:


    You are wearing too much into insanity.

    Pull yourself up.

    Clean toilets is a must for any society. We have to accept the FACT and IMPROVE without shooting the messenger.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    Good tips from Neelamahayoda.

    BTW some people travel up and down the E1 highway just for dinner because the journey takes only 2 hours. Crazy I would say but that’s their lifestyle.

    2 more highways would do well for the economy.

    1. Colombo-Kandy
    2. Colombo-Negombo-Kurunegala

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    Some ideas how to build an inexpensive pubic toilet :

    * Since the air in our country contains a lot of water vapour, it is difficult for wet surfaces to dry quickly through evaporation.’
    Best have some slots in the upper walls of the toilet room to let out warm air from toilet room as well ventilate it.

    * Have natural sunlight come into the toilet from a large skylight.

    * Have a sloping surface of the floor area to allow water to run out through a pipe outlet.

    * Children should be taught in schools on how to properly use a modern toilet. Same should be done in workplaces.

    * Produce our own toilet paper locally. This can be a venture for a village co-operative venture.

    * Have a tap in the toilet room with a plastic jug for washing within the area of pipe outlet.

    * If possible have both squatting pan facilities in some toilets as well as the usual commode in some toilets.

    * Printed instructions on how to use the toilets should be put up on public toilets, with use of diagrams.

    * Toilet cleaning devices and materials should be manufactured locally.

    * Cleaning personnel should be paid a fair wage and dignity of labor maintained. (After all, after the kitchen (Multhange in Sinhala, meaning the Main place in Home), the next most important place ought to be the toilet).

  6. Sunil Mahattaya Says:

    how about a few “Johnny on the spot” toilets which could be cost cutting and installed in strategic locations, but of course being of the portable variety they are at risk of being “lifted!” or to put it less diplomatically “Afted! but jokes apart, surely the facilities described in this write up must be those located in flybynight unlicensed tourist traps, Buth kades /roasaide eateries , public buildings and bus terminals not reputed Hotels, Resthouses or Inns! which have over the years maintained very high hygenic standards !! And iff these too are on the decline today it is something which needs immediate attention towards correcting although hopefully this might not be the case.
    Nevertheless there should be an all out campaign by the ministry of health and sanitation to crackdown on all locations with toilets perused by the public and tourists alike to maintain strict standards of hygeine at risk of being demolished if not adhered to.

  7. Sarath W Says:

    As an Australian citizen I had to pay the tourist rates to visit Pinnawela (Rs 3000), Sigiriya and the other tourist sites. I did not have a problem in paying the extra fee as I understand the high costs to maintain these sites.But at the same time the visitors have the right to expect the authorites to provide the basic facilities like toilets and restaurents.

  8. Naram Says:

    At one time someone – wa sit Lenin, equated socialism to rural electrification. TOday hygenicliving can beequated to clean toilets. I also wonder whether shoes should be essential particularly in the high population conurbations without central sewage treatment plants. Soils must be getting podduted and humansmustbe getting all the deseases from the bugs that make their way though the heel even with septic tanks.

  9. Christie Says:

    In the island nation there are fee paying toilets run by Urban Councils.

    They used to charge two rupees per use and now charges five rupees, that is around US$0.05 (five cents US).

    There is no surcharge for foreignres or those who have acquired foreign organs.

    I am sure there are portable toilets available in Australia as they love to go camping. These toilets are not expensive according to what I find in the web; about Rs 5000. Looks like portable toilets are available in most of the Western countries.

    There is no cutom duty on portable toilets and can be brought in as a personal use item.

    Hope this one won’t get flushed like my previous two comments.

  10. radha Says:

    This is a mundane subject at gutter level, but similar to Franz Dias’ statement, I should say that it does reflect the state of the nation.

    Rightfully the customers should demand hygienic facilities so that they could go to a toilet without holding their noses or getting themselves dirtier than how they started with.

    But at the same time, surely we should also reflect on the attitudes and habits of ourselves that fundamentally put us in this situation.

    All of us get potty trained or its Sri Lankan equivalent at infancy, but how many of us ever get trained in keeping our toilets clean at home. For the well shod, there is always the maid or the boy to clean the toilets. For the others, there is always the mother or a sister to do the cleaning. Even in pit toilets in the villages, they get looked into only when the flies start hitting your bottoms. Then we think about cleaning the slab and putting some lime into the pit. Boys are the worst molly coddled and protected by parents, they are hardly ever asked to clean a toilet. So how can the leaders of the nation who are mostly men, and all other users of toilets ever have any respect for their toilets, or respect the effort of the people who have been hired to or trapped into to keeping them clean.

    If we have to go forward as a cleaner nation, every citizen must be trained to keep their toilets clean, as much as keeping their bottoms clean and fresh. So it is about time parents get their canes out and teach their children and husbands how to do it, and to get some pride instilled in them in keeping their toilets clean themselves. When they learn to respect their own toilets at home, then they will learn to have some respect for other people’s toilets, and respect the trouble that other people have to take to keep them clean. It needs discipline, personal discipline. Ego and uppitiness is prevalent in our society, so it is about time our people get off their high horses and get real.

    Somebody mentioned Indians, where the high cast people think that someone else should carry their poo for them; so now we know where this arrogance comes from, and why our public toilets could be cast in with those of Indians’.

    I went to a military school at age 16. The first thing I had to learn there was to do my own things, keeping the place that I use clean, bright and sparkling. We had room jobs so as to clean communal areas, and one of them was to clean the toilets that we use communally; we had to take turns every week to learn how to do it properly and to take pride in a spanking bright set of latrines. Did it make me an untouchable? No, not at all. But instead I am able to tell boldly here what is wrong with us lot in Sri Lanka.

    That is the way people are trained to be proud of our environment and how to maintain it, to create a disciplined group of people or a nation. When we learn that way, we don’t go on spoiling others’ work by shitting on the toilet lids or not cleaning the mess you do, if you do it accidentally and without aiming correctly. I think you got the gist of what I say. No matter how much we may have learned at universities etc, if we don’t know how to keep our toilets clean, then we have not learned anything about the basics of life.

    Managers and executives go on weekend seminars, team building exercises. Now our elite politicians also do these weekend jollies. May I suggest that in future some of the team building exercises should be focussed on keeping ones toilets clean as part of curriculum, and this should be done by taking a taste of how to clean toilets through personal experience? I think this exercise should start from the President, then others will surely follow as he is always good at setting examples. MR, do it, I challenge you.

    While parents start from the bottom end (excuse my pun), the business managers and politicians should start learning this lesson from the top end. Then, I am sure when the progress made from each end meets somewhere in the middle, then we can be sure that our toilets would be clean and bright for us as well as for the tourists. It would be something to brag about in our tourist adverts promoting Sri Lanka. Come to Sri Lanka, and enjoy a good poo.

  11. Christie Says:

    “This is a mundane subject at gutter level, but similar to Franz Dias’ statement, I should say that it does reflect the state of the nation.

    Rightfully the customers should demand hygienic facilities so that they could go to a toilet without holding their noses or getting themselves dirtier than how they started with”.

    A suject I love with my heart as well as my a–. I am sure most of the people in the world will agree with me unless they have plugged their orifices to civilise, cut the ordour or to fix the “Ugly Side of Sri Lanka”.

    We still rank high in the world in personal hygine and cleanliness.

    A Western couple after seeing how we potty train toddlers said they will do it when they have children. For those who are nappied, that is a toddler sitting on adults raised feet with the back leaning agaist the legs of an adult while enjoying the job.

    I am sure we can do without the sermons from “New Westerners’ lke Tamil and Sinhala Diaspora about personal hygine and cleanliness.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2021 All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress