Dear Sri Lanka,

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Another week has gone by and things only seem to be getting worse; double fuel lines endlessly occupying the streets, trains overcrowded, and numerous people helplessly on the road praying that they’d find a ride home that doesn’t break their wallet and wipe them off a budget that previously used to last at least three days before they lamented their bank balance.

Essential goods are still not easily available. Patients are becoming impatient, unsure if they will survive the medicine shortage while parents are doing all they can with the little resources they have, to ensure they put at least one meal on the table.

Amidst the bleak reality, we have no shortage of politicians coming up with the most fun ideas to help us make it through these tough times that they were indispensible in creating and further worsening.  

The Parliamentarian who served as the former Minister of Energy earlier this year and has been in the news quite a bit in the recent past for his anti-government sentiments, has a few thoughtful suggestions to overcome the immediate fuel crisis.

He put forward a 10-point proposal on short-term solutions for the current shortage of fuel. He suggests a temporary ban on operating cars and jeeps with over 2000 CC engine which consumes more fuel. Perhaps he thinks it has now come to the point of survival of the fittest, leaving it all to natural selection to keep us going after the toughest measures are brought upon us. Does he think, the owners of such vehicles are immune to illnesses that they don’t need to go to the hospital or they don’t have other emergencies to attend to – because they obviously can’t rely on public transport now with the on-going fuel shortage.  So, what are those people supposed to do? Does he have a plan for that as well or is this him just dusting his hands off after a job well done by merely throwing ideas around?

This obviously would also mean most Parliamentarians will have to not just cut away their motorcade but also the luxury vehicle they travel in themselves. And while we don’t have much hope or expectation for them to act like the masses are asked to, how about his other suggestion, the power of peddling. 

He also suggested a programme to encourage cycling. Question is, is he ready to lead by example? Will we see him ride to work or will he make sure he travels in a vehicle with an engine capacity below 2000cc? Plus, has he taken into account how much this initiative will affect the tourism sector that depends on such engines to facilitate trips to attraction sites and tours, an income they are banking on to get us through this?

Is this proposal data driven?

No doubt we have to alter our lifestyles around, to adjust to the drastic changes around us but how irksome is it to hear these same people who metaphorically dug us this grave and put in money out of their pocket to import sand to bury us in this deep dark hole, audaciously police how we should live by dishing out proposals that may or may not be considered feasible suggestions to ‘help’ the situation.

There is a huge question mark where politicians are concerned with regards to the true and horrific picture of the common man’s struggle and it gets even more clear when they present proposals while drawing comparisons with other countries, ever ready to play their punch line of ‘we are not the only one going through this, it a global crisis.’

Yes, we are well aware. We are aware they do not have a severe a shortage of essential goods and medicines too, whilst they grapple with an energy crisis like we are, in addition to questionable politicians running their country and not abiding by the rules they themselves have set up. They have food to buy and money to pay for their expenses without drawing a zero on their ATM withdrawal half a month in. They are maybe expected to live with bare minimum but what we are doing is barely surviving without even the bare minimum –there’s a difference and there’s no comparing the two.

Sincerely,
There are better solutions under the sun

By Dilshani Palugaswewa