Colombo, Politics and Governance

Bus Terrorism and Justice

It was a busy afternoon on the Galle Road in Moratuwa and I stopped my vehicle at a pedestrian crossing to allow a few women and children cross the road.  The vehicle on the left lane also stopped and the people were now more than halfway across when a Matara bound Leyland bus squeezed through the left and overtook both vehicles along the curb, barely missing the people crossing the road.   The bus then cut across to the right lane and nearly missed another bunch of people about to cross at another pedestrian crossing and sped away.  The above scenario is a common site on our roads, but no one takes any action, so the unsociable behaviour from the bus drivers continue.

I took it upon myself to follow and stop the bus and to give the driver some feedback on his bad behaviour.   Unfortunately, my temper had got in the way and I could not string my words together coherently, so I left the scene.  The bus driver decided that I had no business pulling him up, so began chasing me further down the Galle Road.  His behavior became more erratic and dangerous trying to catch me, so I decided I should lose him by speeding further.   I then wondered whether I should have left all this alone in the first place and continued on my way, minding my own business.

This is our biggest dilemma.  Should we just turn a blind eye to this kind of unsociable and dangerous behavior or escalate it, even at the risk of further problems, hoping that the perpetrators will learn?

Having experienced many of these encounters with not much success in changing the general behavior, I now think we should look at the root cause of this problem, rather than take the law into our own hands.

I was deep in tought the rest of that journey wondering “what motivates such unsociable behavior, especially from people who are serving the public ?”.   My mind went to public transit systems in countries such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and London, Toronto and realized how they take this public responsibility for safety and good service so seriously.

What has gone wrong in a nation where our traditional social values are based on respect for each other, generosity and hospitality ?

I also wondered whether the driver had a family and children and how he would react if they were subjected to that kind of danger.

Does this behavior arise from liberal economic policies and privatization where competition and money making is the order of the day ?.

Why have we allowed such a free fall system to take root without rules based on ethics and discipline ?

Is money becoming the ultimate form of power in Sri Lanka ?

Where are all the good people and why are they silent ?

These are questions we all need to ponder on.

In my work with organizations both public and private as a leadership trainer, I come across hundreds of people every month who are concerned about all this.  They feel helpless in a system that seems so politicized and dangerous, so they go about their lives suffering silently.

How can Sri Lanka advance as a nation when its people are suffering these finds of indignities in the hands of a few ?   Where is the justice ?.

A nation without justice is a nation with low social esteem.  A nation with low social esteem will remain poor and disadvantaged in a globalized world.

Do we want to remain as such or should we speak out ?

Over to you.