Railway to Jaffna and antics of a Sri Lankan Minister

(October 01, Colombo - Lanka Polity) "Tune in to any local TV channel this evening at 8.05 PM and watch as Sri Lanka makes history. A message from the Government of Sri Lanka." This was a message distributed by mobile phone companies via SMS alerts on 30 September and people were enthusiastic to see how Sri Lanka makes history on that time.

However, almost all the TV channels telecast an advertisement stating that a fund had been launched to raise funds from people to rebuild the northern railway line to Jaffna and to repair 27 railway stations.

Northern railway line dilapidated due to decades old war and needs complete reconstruction to ply the famous 'Yal Devi' train to Jaffna beyond Thandikulam where the journey ends now.

The 'creative' concept of mocking the phrase 'Sri Lanka makes history' belongs to the Minister of Transport Dallus Alahapperuma, one time journalist of a radical tabloid, and Triad, the non-official state advertising agent that is owned by the daughter and son-in-law of Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Cabinet Minister of Public Administration and Home Affairs and Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning.

Unfortunately, the President Mahinda Rajapakse has got angry over the misuse of the image of state in this publicity campaign and rapped the 'creative' Minister Alahapperuma, media reported. Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Minister of Information and Media and Cabinet Spokesman, holder of an envied position, disowned the responsibility of the concept and asked the journalists that queried about it to contact those who conveyed the controversial message.

Meanwhile, in the advertisement, several compartments of the train is dis-coupled and the people belonged to all three communities push the parts difficultly to re-couple them. Some say that there is a hidden satire in the advertisement since it was not necessary the passengers to push train parts so difficultly and the engine driver could have reversed the train with the help of the guard to re-couple the dislodged compartments in the way it is normally done. Does the Minister convey the message that people need to fund this project since the pilots of the nation do not pay attention?

In fact the government levies heavy taxes from the countrymen from rice to petrol and from needle to motor vehicle. The state obtain massive loans locally and internationally to run the economy and for development projects and it is not necessary to burden the public further to pay off their hard earned money to build a railway line. At the moment, the government is developing the road network and other infrastructure in the Northern Province areas recently captured from the Tamil Tiger rebels with assistance from the states like China and India.

(Photo: dilapidated Jaffna railway station)


  1. Getting the travelling public to push train carriages with bare hands is not 'making history': It's an activity that belongs in history in the 1970-77 era of a broken down economy

  2. It is very sad that the thoughts of the Govt of Sri Lanka are still in the 18th Century. I don’t think that anybody is concerned about reinstalling railway link between Jaffna and Colombo that takes almost half a day to reach one end to other. It is appalling that the Govt failed to take the advantage of the concerns international community that was very concern about the lasting peace and harmony after the war is ended between the two major communities Sinhalese and Tamils in the Northern Sri Lanka. The Govt should a vision to make a open request to the international community seeking their support to build a fast track between Colombo and Jaffna where the total distance is only 190 miles.
    France’ TGV train service broke the 200 mph barrier more than half a century ago and in the event the Govt of Sri Lanka made a fervent request he European nations, Japan and China would still extend their support to build a fast electric track that takes only an hour to reach Jaffna which would definitely help rebuilding trust, confidence and proximity between the divided communities.
    I believe that it is still not late to make such a plea to the world community by the Govt of Sri Lanka and I hope that those in the decision making process would pay their attention to my constructive criticism.


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