Friday, January 15, 2010
What I observe on provincial roads excluding trucks and buses
I am on the roads a lot of my time, day and night and as it is mainly out of the Colombo district, it never ceases to amaze me that there are so many vehicles on the road belonging to the non-private sector. Needless to say most of the encounters are during the day, as the non-private sector drivers and their vehicles are fast asleep at night during the only time I can spare to drive!
A point to note is that all these vehicles have drivers who are permanent staff with social security and pension benefits. They charge overtime when they stay beyond regular working hours. (whether the authorizations are true or false, it is the state sector that pays their wages) Their monthly net exceeds Rs20,000, which is rare for private sector drivers who work longer and often do not have the pension benefits. Is it hardly a wonder that I cannot afford the services of a driver?
They drive their vehicles recklessly, as the insurance and repairs are also paid by the state sector, and they are not penalized for bad driving. The insurance is on the vehicle and not the quality of the driver as is the case in western countries that penalize bad drivers. Often there are family members along for the ride and many a state vehicle is misused by both the person assigned the vehicle and the driver who sometimes drives it home. Remember the person assigned the vehicle does not care how much mileage is done, or charged as he is not paying the bills. All the private drivers I know are not allowed to drive their vehicles home. If they are lucky they have a motorbike to go home, if they can afford one.
A driving job in the state sector is a prized occupation, as very little responsibility goes with the job. Come to think of it I may be better of financially if I had a job as a driver for a government department!! Most of the time is spent reading the papers or passing the time of day as a completely useless citizen of the land.
Once I was at a police station, and the OIC (officer in charge) was complaining that his jeep was in a seriously poor condition, and had put in a request for a replacement. I heard from the police driver assigned the vehicle that it is primarily used for the OIC and his family’s personal use and no subordinate would rat on the superior as the code of secrecy applies to such abuse of privilege and power.
It may sound like sour grapes as I battle to survive in a beat up uncomfortable vehicle loaded to the gunnels with produce, trying to earn a living for myself and my staff, while these fancy state sector air conditioned vehicles whizz about the roads with near do well occupants eating into the entrepreneurial drive of the nation, come to think of it I should join the state sector!!!