The tragic news yesterday in Ekgal Oya in Damana in the Ampara District of drowning of 4 individuals, due to the boat they were in capsizing, again brings to the fore that NO ONE is pointing out the inherent danger of anyone venturing into a water source not prepared, at least by wearing a life jacket. Prior to making it compulsory, lets think of interim measures that don't need legislation, just common sense.
We have a few social givens that need to change, one of which is the relatively low percentage of people who can swim in our Country. This begs the question! Those who cannot swim MUST wear a life vest when entering a boat that is taking them on a trip or ride, as is a common entertainment. These boats are not prepared for a sudden swell that could overturn them. The boatman sometimes cannot swim, but is not wearing a life vest either, at least so they can help.
We have a Disaster Relief Ministry. They don’t believe it is within their ambit to envision, that even a boat capsizing, however small, is ALSO A DISASTER.
I recommend that there are certain guidelines that are adopted. I know that life vests are expensive, many people who go into the water have to either supply their own life vests or go without them. While I first ask the state to purchase a quantity of vests, available for sale to anyone who wishes to buy them. If the state is able to purchase in bulk they are surely able to get a good vest at a lower cost than if I were to import one.
So instead of looking at this as a contract for someone to make money on the side, by over-invoicing or make a quick buck at the expense of the consumer, surely we can source quality life vests at a reasonable price, that local communities are encouraged to purchase, and individuals, who are so inclined to do so encouraged to purchase too.
I must admit guilt in going in a dugout in my lake too without a life vest, but if I knew I could purchase a few vests at a reasonable price, I too am willing to stock and keep a few in my home for use by people who venture into the water.
I don’t like life vests doled out by a state institution to anybody FREE, as neither is its value appreciated, as they will stick it inside their home and prevent anyone from using it, nor will they use it themselves.
Those voluntary organizations in Sri Lanka may then purchase some to be used wisely under supervision and tourists in any case demand that they be given life vests and I am sure reputable establishments offer them in such circumstances.
The state must therefore source life jackets for sale and give publicity as to where they are available for purchase, and the price of each. I am sure there is a demand from people who feel they need one. LIVES WILL BE SAVED.