Anyone who has ever lived, or travelled, in the West, and experienced the beautifully functioning road system, replete with law abiding motorists that keep within their lanes, follow the speed limit (mostly), allow people to cut in front of them, and stop at pedestrian (zebra) crossings, would probably have a heart attack if they came to Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka the average motorist follows none of these rules. Sri Lankan roads are a free for all, where the lanes are completely ignored, speed limits are unknown and people are forced to push in if they want to get anywhere. The average Sri Lankan motorist would not be allowed to drive even a toy truck in a western country. But this is ok. This is how it works here. However, as part of their push towards development, the Sri Lankan government has begun putting pedestrian crossings all over the island. A good idea in theory, but they are not enforcing them. They must either enforce these crossings, or stop wasting their time and money.

I am a pedestrian by nature, mostly because I don’t consider the added expense of a car worth it, but also because I absolutely hate traffic and would rather walk/take the train. However, this is not an option in Sri Lanka. Sidewalks are either dirt tracks or nonexistant, and the train resembles something more out of slumdug millionaire than a reasonable mode of transportation. But still, people must cross the road, and in Sri Lanka, when someone crosses the road they are taking their lives in their own hands. As mentioned before, the roads are a free for all. Cars will not stop for love or money, if they hit you, so be it. So the Sri Lankan government started setting up pedestrian crossings. Like those in the west they are complete with signs before and at the point of the crossing, they have wonderful yellow stripes, and all in all look gorgeous. But they are completely ignored. The other day I was standing at a crossing for close to five minutes and not a single car stopped. Eventually I had to run across the road during a break in the traffic.

These pedestrian crossings obviously cost a lot of money, especially for a country that must import practically everything. The paint costs money, the signs cost money, the labour costs money, the maintenance costs money. All money that could be used for something else this incredibly poor country needs. When motorists do not observe the pedestrian crossings, this money is completely wasted. Either the Sri Lankan government should stop creating pedestrian crossings and spend the money in some other much needed area, or they should amend the legislation and get the police to start enforcing them. They either need to make the pedestrian crossings work, or give up.