The Isira Radio Correspondent in Jaffna reported today (November 19) that all three- wheeler taxis numbering nearly 300 in Jaffna town joined a procession waving Lion flags to celebrate Sri Lanka Army’s victory at Pooneryn. Celebrations took place along Hospital Road and Stanley Road.
He quoted businessmen in the area as saying that this was the first time after 30 years that people bought fire crackers for a celebration. There was now a big market for fire crackers and more stocks would be required from Colombo.
It was one big joyous event, according to the Isira reporter who attributed it mainly to the reopening after 15 years of the land route (A-32) linking North and South. Until the fall of Pooneryn to the Security Forces, people were compelled to travel to the South by sea or air. Airfare per person traveling between Jaffna and Colombo was Rs. 22,500. Traveling by ship from Kankesanturai to Trincomalee cost Rs. 10,200 per person. All that is bound to change hereafter and people would be able to cover the same distance by road at a cost of around Rs.1000 per person.
The government too until now had to bear heavy transportation costs in sending and bringing back troops to and from the North by air or sea. Having traveled with the troops on board the Sri Lanka Navy Troop transport A543 from Trinco to Karainagar Naval Base in 2001, this writer could very well imagine the immense discomfort and sea sickness that rough seas could cause to passengers. At the time naval transport vessels had to head for the high seas before moving parallel to the coast to avoid Sea Tiger attack craft.
Speaking on Isira SLBC Chairman Hudson Samarasinghe and TNL Chairman Shan Wickremesinghe said they were now exploring the possibility of sending battery-operated radio sets to the liberated areas since all these years the people there were deprived of news from Colombo. The only problem envisaged is the likelihood of LTTE elements seizing these batteries for making in anti-personnel mines.
The fall of the Tigers’ last bastion on the North-Western Coast proves Karuna’s claim that the LTTE has no strength to fight on several fronts unlike the Sri Lanka Army.