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Getting up to speed


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Last week I wrote about how there was a clash of speeds, how various sectors of our economy were not synchronised with each other. My focus was on the Southern Express Highway and how we need a plan to get moving!

I travelled up north last weekend, along the A3 to Puttalam and then to Anuradhapura and from there to Mannar. Right along my journey, the roads were in excellent condition; so good that in many places I spotted Traffic Police with speed guns to discourage motorists from travelling at Southern Highway speed limits.

It’s a good feeling when you can get to your destination as fast as possible with ease. However, what is not so good is if one runs out of fuel before getting there, which might well be the case if one is expecting to find a filling station between Anuradhapura and Marawila which supplies 95 octane petrol.

I could not find one for almost 155 kilometres from Anuradhapura along the A12 to Puttalam and right up to Marawila on the A3. I was later told by the CPC Marketing Division that there was one 95 octane filling station at Madampe, but I did not see it.

From a business point of view, the need for an outstation filling station operator to stock 95 octane is not a priority as the demand is minimal, according to the Acting Manager of CPC. I am told that there is only a little over 100 sheds stocking 95 octane operated by the CPC, of which just over 50% are in the Western Province.

I do not know the figures of the competitor (LIOC), but on my way down from Anuradhapura, I stopped at one of their stations to inquire after 95 octane and was offered 93 instead. I do not really know what that means, therefore did not want to risk it.

Having filling stations that stock 95 octane at closer intervals along the roads would be important; for instance, it is difficult to fathom why a large town like Puttalam would not have such sheds.

The opposing argument might be, why don’t you fill up when you see a station with 95 Octane? But that argument will not hold water in a situation like this. For example, one fills up at Anuradhapura, then drives down to Wilpattu along the A12 and spends almost an entire day there driving 4x4 (which means consuming more than the average amount of petrol) and gets out in the evening to drive back to Colombo. It certainly would be risky, since the next filling station would be almost 150 kilometres away.

Be that as it may, when observing these figures, it is clear that people using the newer vehicles are in and around the Western Province (no surprise). The point that I once again make is that with the roads built to make travelling that much easier and faster, more and more people want to be travelling out to experience this newfound freedom after the 30-year war.

However, for the local tourists from the Western Province, there needs to be more put into the infrastructure of road travel. Proper facilities such as good rest houses (motels) with clean rest rooms, efficient breakdown services and petrol stations with services to carry out any running repairs on vehicles would be welcomed.

It is not just a question of how much more we need to spend, but how smart we can get in providing successful solutions. It is not the intention of this column to see more petrol stations with pumps that can supply 95 octane, but rather, how about a road map that clearly marks out these petrol sheds that have high octane fuel?

There are many things that can be done to get up to speed, which only needs a little tinkering and coordination (synchronisation) and where there is a will, there will always be a way.

(The writer, a PR consultant and head of Media360, was previously a mainstream journalist in print and electronic media. He also edits a new media website.)

 


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