Monday, May 09, 2011

Roads: Prerequisit for the Rural Development

Have you ever thought how important roads are to take development to the remote areas? Until you get the first hand experience in a remote hilly region, you won't understand how important roads are for the day to day lives of villagers in those remote areas. You got to carry everything (from food to construction material) miles and miles until you are breathless and collapsed due to tiredness. Even you are sick, there is no other way to come down other than walking to look for medical help. I don't know how villagers handle medical emergencies in these areas. It gives me a shiver to think how fatal it could be for a pregnent mother to go to labour in the middle of the night. Perhaps the villagers are used to the above circumstance and adapting the local methods to cope up the situation.
Roads are an essential infrastructure to bring the development to the remote regions. The Government of Sri Lanka is all going out to develop its road network. Although some people criticize the government action I am fully supportive knowing how essential it is for the lives of masses. Besides, how could I work in the same field if I don't see how important the roads are to the community?

When I came back to Sri Lanka after ten long years in New Zealand, what I witnessed was a horrible condition of the road network. It was shocking to see how bad the roads were with huge potholes and clogged side drains. Although there is an influx of cars in recent times the road network has not been widened and improved to accommodate more vehicles.

Dehiowita Pradeshiya Sabha area is the second largest Pradeshiya Sabha area in the country. While the trunk roads have been improved, the local road network is not yet developed, particularly in the hilly areas. Unfortunately our rubber estate is situated in one of those remote areas. As nearly a kilometer distance to the road is not motorable, due to the bad condition of the road, it costs us a fortune to transport building material to the site. Finding a suitable vehicle that can travel along the hilly and raggedy road is a daunting task. Each time when we hire a vehicle, we are to keep few people standby in case the vehicle needs a support for pushing upward. This makes the construction work difficult. I wonder how the villagers carried bags of cement and other heavy construction material to higher elevations to build their houses! I feel the remoteness and rural character are still preserved as the area is not motorable. When we looked for the rubber lands, we found that the land prices were quite low due to this reason.

Concreted Section of the Raod

The villages said that they had only a footpath a few years ago. Now they have a 15 ft wide road which has been paved halfway through. Despite all these difficulties, the villagers are happy of what they have already got. What I heard is the villagers collectively improved their road by paving it. It needs more support for these people. Although the labour is available, they need material support to build the rest of the road. The politicians come and go, new administrations are set up in local governments with newly appointed politicians, but the problems of the villages are still unsolved…

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