Author Topic: 120 KMPH Expressways: the need for road discipline  (Read 1035 times)

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Offline sithari

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120 KMPH Expressways: the need for road discipline
« on: August 18, 2006, 06:46:13 PM »
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Tissa Jayaweera



Expressways having a center divider, minimum of 1 meter in height make head on collision impossible.
 
EXPRESSWAY: Congratulations Sri Lanka, finally a 120 KMPH Expressway is being born, Sri Lanka being the last in South Asia to build an Expressway. This country has only three flyovers whereas India is to complete 23 flyovers in 2006. There was a lot of excitement on media by various people contributing their two cents worth with respect to the South Expressway.

These so-called experts were asleep all this while and now they have got out of their slumber to realise that the Expressway under construction has only two lanes for outward and inward beyond a certain point. The expressway was being discussed for the past many years.

Now it is turning in to reality, the pros and cons are being debated now, Why? Answer to the question is for the Commission on Bribery and Corruption. Another so-called expert even mentioned the cost to the country by crashes caused due to a two lane Expressway.

I have driven on high speed roads in Japan, Europe, USA, UK. Average 180 KMPH in Germany for over 4 hrs at a time, 75 - 100 MPH in US as most of the time I live there. 80 KMPH on two lane Expressways in Japan, 100 KMPH in Motorways in England.

Why all this excitement. Do the experts realise that all Expressways have a center divider minimum of 1 meter in height making head on collision impossible. There are two lane roads in most parts of the developed world where the maximum speed in 60 MPH or 80 KMPH and no divider is present.

There is one mile or Km in single lane and the next mile or Km an overtaking lane is created alternatively. It is suicide if two oncoming vehicles collide on such roads. The only Freeway in this country is 1 KM of road built in the 60s in Kalutara from end to end of town.

This does not have a center divider, as the speed limit when it was built was 20 MPH for heavy vehicles and 30 MPH for others. Up to about three years ago there were no obstructions to free flow of vehicles.

The present Pandits have introduced three Pedestrian Crossings to this 1 KM of road, recently I noticed a motorcycle parked at the edge and rider missing. This is how this country goes forward and keeps jumping back to third world since independence.

Our so-called experts as well as drivers of this country are not ready to drive on high speed Expressways nor are they qualified to drive on the present roads of the country. I have written to the media and challenged the RDA, RMV and the Police Department to observe the violations caused by drivers of this country during daytime and night as well as badly designed roads especially Roundabouts and Intersections.

In this country the Police drivers have their own rules. Officers in Police Uniform driving vehicles belonging to public have their own rules. Uniformed drivers of public vehicles authorised for personal use by officers of the forces have their own rules. Private vehicles hired by the forces driven by civilian drivers have their own rules.

The worst being drivers of vehicles of politicians having no rules. Drivers of Buses, three wheelers have their own rules. Then the drivers of SUV known as Pajero, Double cabs and mini trucks driven by the new rich of this country have their own, 20 foot container trucks and the 40 footers have their own due to sheer size, Mid size trucks and large trucks have their own and then the larger vehicles and the smaller have their own.

Then come the latest menace the motorcycle and the Moped where even a registration and helmet is not required. Hardly any bicycles but they too have their own rules. It is something out of this country to see a bicycle with a lamp in front and a reflector at the back as specified by the act.

Bicycles handed over to police officers for patrol duty do not have lights when used in the night. Hand tractors, tractors move about without any lights in front and back or no light or illumination/reflector on trailers.

The Motor Traffic Act is a simple document, prepared by the British and modified a little by our Administrators. This is the only country in the world where the speed limits were 32 and 56 KMPH. These modifications were done by the Administrators of this country taking the shortest cut of conversion from MPH to KMPH.

I visit SAARC countries often these days. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have introduced high speed roads at 100 KMPH. Most of them three lanes each way. Three wheelers, low speed motorcycles are not allowed. Buses and trucks have to use only the lane closer to edge. Bus stops are designed away from the free flow of vehicles.

There are hardly and idle officers of the Law to be seen on the road. They are involved in prevention of crime travelling about in marked/unmarked vehicles. In this country there are many vehicles belonging to the Police Department at any given time on the road. They have their own errands. In the case of a mishap when Police is called answer is "No vehicle to come to scene. Call insurance and settle it".

This country has many checkpoints stopping anything moving on wheels. Only check done is the ID of the person/persons. Interior, tires, vehicle condition, pollution etc. is not checked.

Nighttime there is more to check. As I said earlier I challenge the DIG and all senior officers of the Police Department to stand with me at one place and observe the number of vehicles moving which are unsuitable to be on the road after dark inclusive of vehicles belonging to the Police Department.

The latest is all busses drive with their High Beam called headlights in this country. All vehicles in the city have to move with low beam or dipped headlights as per the act and if on high beam, the high beam has to be dipped for oncoming vehicles. High beam must be dipped when following a vehicles, I can go on and on pointing how blind the Police Department is.

The duty of Government is to provide infrastructure to develop a country and one of the main items is to move from point A to B by the shortest route and time. This country neither has the shortest route or time. 95 per cent of the roads in this country are what the British built. The new being the planed Expressways.

Development is transport of goods and people safe and fast. There is Air, Sea, Rail and Road. For example: 100 KM to Kandy byroad is 3 - 3 1/2 with so many near misses during day, between 2200 - 0600 2 1/2 - 3 hrs avoiding people, cattle, dogs and other vehicles that come across your path.

100 KM by rail is 3 hrs. In US, Europe and Japan we use GPS to get from A to B. In Japan all Taxis use GPS to take guest from A - B by the shortest route in the shortest time. No wonder people are confused, tired and productivity is low in Sri Lanka.

At a recent seminar on transport I pointed out the grit content of Premix being layed on roads is not correct. The Pandits present said yes, it is a mix designed by some expert and not been modified from day one. Observe the surface of roads of other countries the grit size of Premix is 1 - 1 1/2 inch.

This country the grit is not seen. Naturally there is rolling of surface especially at bus stops and surface becomes bumpy after some time due to melting of asphalt.

The Pundits have no solution and resurfacing of roads is being done by contractors in most parts of the country, with funds from World Bank. IMF. Public pay, the younger generation of this country will pay in 10 years to come for what our current Pandits have bungled. Contractors make money as they are assured of relay work at least once in two years.

RDA, RMV Highways Authority, police start educating drivers on road rules before you let them loose on 120 KMPH roads. Most of the vehicles moving on roads today are not capable of a constant speed of 120 KMPH for one hour. Buses, trucks, motorcycles should not be permitted on these expressways and drivers trained to reach 120 KMPH in the shortest possible time after entering.

Good example is when a light just turns green at stop sign, drivers of vehicles at the back horn to push the driver in front. They take so long to pickup or a slow moving three wheeler, a moped or an overloaded 50 cc motorcycle or a vehicle turning left or right from the wrong lane which is a common sight at all colour lights slow all vehicles behind.

Cop manning colour light, a waste of manpower looks on helpless. Cop at colour light must be used to prosecute violators not signal stop or move, drivers of this country do not know to take off quick but know to drive at high speed with the use of horn.

In freeway use the vehicle moving in has to get to the speed of moving vehicles 120 KMPH as fast as possible.

Most of our drivers are incapable of this action as they think crawling in low RPM saves Fuel. A licence to ride a motorcycle is given in a bunch by RMV if they can balance a motorcycle?

Public are unaware on a rail track a moving train has the right of way. When a train hits a vehicle all our Pandits, politicians come on TV/media to say there should be a manned crossing at a railway crossing. Nowhere in the world are all rail crossings manned nor do they have rail gates, alarms, bamboos or red flags. Only a warning sign to say Train. It is left to the driver to decide if he is to commit suicide or murder.

There was a time the police displayed at various points the number of mishaps. It is high time police publish data of prosecutions done to law breaking drivers so that the roads are made safe for the movement of vehicles driven by respected drivers.
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