People often say “If you can drive in Sri Lanka, you can probably drive anywhere”. You might think that’s a very nice compliment but that is not quite the case. The real meaning behind the saying is that if you can drive in Sri Lanka, you’re lucky to be alive. Naturally, it’s an exaggeration but it does highlight the problems we face on your daily travels. If you were to ask around for the biggest menaces on the Sri Lankan roads there would be three top contenders. One would be busses and another would be tuk-tuks. The third problem that is faced by many in Sri Lanka are the titular Motorcycle Menaces.
When you think motorcycles in Sri Lanka, it’s often associated with reckless driving. One must often be aware of motorcyclists cutting and switching lanes haphazardly, trying to squeeze in between two vehicles. Such actions affect the drivers around the motorcyclist as they have to make up for the recklessness shown by the motorcyclist. Imagine you want to get from one place to another. Many people want to get there so they go in line. Let’s also say that there are smaller individuals trying to get to the same location, but are often in a hurry. They would squeeze in between little gaps made by the larger individuals and jump from line to line, causing serious disruptions in the movement of traffic and often colliding with the large individuals. The collision would lead to a further disruption of traffic and the said tiny individual would have caused a larger incident due to their recklessness and impatience.
There are currently laws in place in Sri Lanka that regulate lane discipline, yet they are vehemently ignored by motorists and authorities alike. Recently, the government attempted to take a leaf off another country’s book and attempted to install a “Bus Lane” into our roadways. The project was implemented in Nawala, and an announcement was made about its use. However, it went about as well as anyone would have thought. Within days, the use of the bus lane was completely nullified as motorists used the lane just as they would any other, and the authorities didn’t bat an eye. Another hurdle in our quest for better motorways.
Incidentally, taking a page out of another country’s book was precisely the right thing to do and the government must be commended for taking such an action. “But writer”, you say. “Wasn’t the project a failure?”
Perhaps it was. But rather than thinking of it as a failure on the part of the government, we must think of it as yet another hurdle we must overcome to make our roads safer. The government is indeed taking a step in the right direction. Even if it should have been done ages ago, “better late than never”. International road laws are strictly regulated and upheld by authorities that respect such laws and strive to make sure recklessness of drivers doesn’t lead to calamities. If we want our roadways to be as safe as those in other countries, it must be a combined effort. We simply cannot put all the blame on the government and the authorities when we ourselves drive like drunkards with a full bladder. If we put the safety of our fellow citizen first and observe the rules that were put in place so we could get from one place to another safely, Sri Lanka wouldn’t have to bear the loss of 5000+ people who were victims to the recklessness of others.