People Denied a Basic Human Right

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Dec 4 2021

The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) is fiddling while the voter is suffering for the lack of a basic human right – electricity and safe cooking gas (LPG) due to no fault of theirs – but because of sins of commission and omission committed by the State.

One gas company suspended gas supplies on Friday (3) due to explosions related to LPG leakages reported since 4 November, which thus far has killed one, injured at least four and have caused damages to several houses and properties including restaurants and hotels.

And now an externally politicised ‘work-to-rule’ campaign led by CEB engineers because of  GoSL’s award of an LNG contract to a NASDAQ-listed US-based multinational energy contractor, which has a higher credit rating than Sri Lanka, has disrupted electricity supply, inconveniencing millions of consumers islandwide.

The LPG fiasco is GoSL’s own making caused by allowing a gas company to change the LPG composition for no rhyme or reason thereby placing life, limb and property at risk and the trade union action at CEB, the start of it which may be traced back to certain key agents of the present Government itself who had more in common with unionists than with the management of institutions, by encouraging strikes when in power.

If there is a change in composition in the LPG mix that may lead to fatal injuries and the reason for the gas industry’s current state of affairs, the solution is to revert to the former mix and ensure a steady supply of cooking gas to the consumer without any disruptions and not by a carte blanche suspension of LPG supply. 

It’s not rocket science to know that the former LPG mix which dominated the country’s 149-year old LPG history to date was not the culprit for Sri Lanka’s reported LPG accidents prior to 4 November.

LPG is known as a clean and safe energy where ‘safety’ is ensured, starting with it being made available with the proper mix suitable for Sri Lanka such as that which prevailed prior to the reportage of the current wave of LPG accidents beginning  from more than a month ago on 4 November. 

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa speaking at his inauguration from Ruwanwelisaya, Anuradhapura, on 18 November 2019, to quote excerpts said, “The Buddhist philosophy is infused into my thoughts and conduct. Buddhist philosophy calls for a righteous rule that respects law and order, justice and fair-play.

“I pledge to build a truly committed, efficient and professional public service that will respect the supremacy of the law, protect social justice and be free of fraud and corruption.” 

But where is the promised ‘righteous rule that respects law and order, justice and fair-play,’ when the consumer is deprived of a basic right such as the availability of LPG for his cooking, an industry which has a 149-year history in Sri Lanka, disrupted due to no fault of the consumer ?

And why are those responsible for the life threatening LPG mix not only, not being charged, but allowed to continue as usual? Where are the recalling and the replacements with the right LPG mix for the consumer who has already bought cylinders with that life threatening LPG mix? Where is the compensation to the victims who have already suffered due to this wrong mix?

And on top of these woes, the consumer is now being threatened, if not already being made a victim, due to blackouts led by CEB engineers’ externally politicised ‘work to rule’ campaign in protest over a multinational American company’s planned LNG investments in Sri Lanka.

The present regime, though not necessarily Rajapaksa per se, has a history of pandering to strikers, with or without the support of external forces. 

A classic case was when the President’s elder brother current Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was the Labour Minister after the August 1994 Parliamentary Poll,  he  encouraged strikers at two multinational companies which have set up shop here, namely Prima, a Singapore-based company and Ansell Lanka, an Australian-based company to continue with their disruptive work.

Meanwhile, affecting the country’s uninterrupted electricity supply has to be looked at in the context, that due to leaking LPG, in cylinders, coupled with GoSL’s suspension of its supply with no safe substitutes offered as a solution, several consumers invested their hard earned money on electrical appliances such as heaters and cookers as substitutes to aid in their cooking and thus ensure that their families are provided with safe, clean and affordable food.

But now they are left ‘high and dry’ due to disruptions in electricity supply because of ‘work-to- rule’ CEB employees.

To recapitulate, the President at his ‘Ruwanwelisaya’ address also said, “Voters have given me a mandate to implement my manifesto titled ‘Vistas of Prosperity’ which is a people’s programme envisioned by the people for the people.”

A programme ‘by the people and for the people’ does not mean a programme  depriving the masses of a basic human right, electricity and gas, which doesn’t lead to prosperity, but rather to the bullock cart age of poverty and misery.

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Dec 4 2021

More News