By Kumar David –
In all countries that have got past the worst of the coronavirus crisis and most others airports are open for both arriving and departing passengers. Even India which is still in the grip of the disease airports started opening for internal flights though the country is closed to international travel. To the best of my knowledge airports in the UK, USA, most European countries, Hong Kong, Singapore and most in China did shut down completely though inbound travel from certain countries was or still is still prohibited. It seems Sri Lanka with just one international airport is overreacting. There was talk of reopening BIA on 1 August but that has been postponed; nobody quiet knows why. Policy, if you call it that is haphazard. The government did a good job in curbing the Covid-19 crisis though it did overdo curfews and lockdowns and it seems that the same trend is continuing in locking down clubs and the airport.
One crazy example is the Senior Police Officers Mess and linked restraint near Police Park which is now open only to serving officers but closed to retired senior personnel. And if you peep in from the outside you will see that it is usually empty because, for example, a large bar-room is allowed to accommodate only four persons, a huge dining hall some small number and so on. I am picking on this example to drive home the point that even the cops are not immune to bossy sanitary inspectors who now call themselves PHIs and other sorts of quasi sanitary and medical personnel who have enjoy throwing their weight around. If the US is going to one extreme and very foolishly neglecting caution, Sri Lanka is going to the other side and overdoing it.
This started with the medical association turned authoritarian political party known by the acronym GMOA. It was a stalwart Gota force in November and is now contesting seats under poropaya. Its hopes of consolidating power by getting its past president appointed as Secretary to the Health Ministry floundered when Gota, true to form picked a military man. While I don’t approve of the military usurping political and civilian positions in this one case it was the less bad option. The GMOA I understand was one of the entities that has enjoyed throwing its weight around in semi fascist style and telling other people how to conduct their lives. Between sanitary inspectors and upstart doctors where are we going to end up?
One of reasons why the airport can’t be opened is because the authorities have not got the testing gear and the quarantine facilities if needed to handle the modest traffic that will flow when BIA opens – don’t worry there will be no flood of thousands of tourists, planes are flying less than half full all over the world.
The authorities are constricted in their thinking in this most unusual and once in a lifetime situation. It is very necessary to be innovative, creative and think outside the box.