COLOMBO, July 4 – The days are still sunny and the air is fresh in the city and some adventurous tourists can be still seen enjoying a joy ride on a bullock cart back to their hotel, one way of travel that involves no fuel or gas. Just the sturdy legs of two bulls.
However, bullock carts are not a regular sight in the city and offered only by one or two hotels as a mode of fun travel, with regular travel arrangements still planned well ahead for tourists arriving in the country, currently facing an unprecedented shortage of fuel.
Despite the interruption, tourism may still be among some of the good goings here while uncertainty continues to plague Sri Lanka, which has been desperately putting various plans together to get the country going despite the fuel shortage, food shortage and the ever present debts that have pushed the country to its brink.
From some students from poor families having one meal a day, or Maggie noodles day and night or Sama posha (similar to Nestum breakfast cereal) to tide over the hard times to daily wage earners having to forego any work due to the fuel shortage and “no travel and stay home” directives, and the depleting shelves in supermarkets, things are just becoming more and more difficult for the people here while the future remains bleak.
Those with resources are managing their domestic issues from having reserve cooking gas and so on but food supplies are also diminishing, so the concerns remain up.
While, many people continue to take efforts to help others in distress whether it is supplying food or medicines, to ensure that people come out of these hard times in Sri Lanka somewhat, the political discontent continues, and another protest has been planned later this week, said a city dweller here, who added that he will not be participating in the upcoming protest.
“The leaders who were elected to rule the country had let the people down badly and the same people are now gearing up for another protest in the city later this week to oust the leaders,” he said.
“I heard that this time, the gathering will have people coming from other parts of the country. The same Buddist monks who gave lotus flowers to voters to vote in the leaders in the last election, are now urging the voters to remove them, saying they have brought all the problems to the country,” he said.
Time is running out, as many people still want President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to go as he holds the executive powers in the country and is still running the show, and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, for all his experience and desire to get the country back in tracks, may not be able to fully exercise his will to do what he wants to do. “They are friends.”
What are the people expecting from the planned protest?
“They are holding the Rajapaksas responsible for the country’s present mess and are not happy with Gotabaya still in the picture. He is an army man with no experience in administrating a country. A major mistake made was banning the import of chemical fertilizers in the agriculture sector. The intentions were good as the idea was to raise organic vegetables but the timing was bad. The food sector, farmers were badly affected.
“Many other irrational decisions with an attitude of dictatorship were also made, that has put Sri Lanka in its present state. Now, that the same people who voted them in have been badly affected by the fuel and food crisis, want them out. They want a new set of cabinet, who can help reset the country.”
Meanwhile, local newspapers have reported that five fuel shipments are expected to arrive in the country this month, including from India and Malaysia.