Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Permit to enter the High Security Zone

I alluded earlier to the problems I had with the police in getting the required information to apply for the permit to bring my Tata cab, all open flat bed, into areas of Colombo. A closed tinted Sport Utility vehicle most favoured by ministers and crooks and even the LTTE are allowed free of this requirement.

Today at noon Amila and I went to the Pettah Police station section that grants this permit, armed with all the relevant documentation. The SSP who was going to help me could not speak to the officer as he had requested as their was no reception at the underground warren I had to go to.

Despite having what was clearly the information requested, I was told by the office that I did not have a certified copy of my enterprise licence. I had to carefully explain that I was a farmer bringing his produce direct to customers and as such the farm did not have that kind of designation. For an officious official this was not a good explanation. Then he wanted letters from all my customers that I bring produce to them. If I did have letters, he would say they have to be on letter head. What house has letter head when a police station can issue me with a police report sans a letterhead and only on a piece of paper.

I explained that this vehicle was my only vehicle, and I needed to go at anytime as I am invited to dinner or whatever at places that fall into the high security zone. Only Friday when this permit is to be picked up will I know if I will have been given freedom on time or restricted to certain hours to the area, where I consider home and where my family live.

This bureaucratic process took a few hours. I was asked to get the SSP who offered to help, to call the Deputy Inspector General so I can get the pass, and override the requirement of letters from my customers, and the lack of an enterprise license.

It amazes me if anyone thinks this will avoid a security threat as the real threat is from the vehicles that do not come under this category, that can freely enter this zone and is far more capable of carrying concealed explosives than an open vehicle where I cannot even put a briefcase in the drivers cab.

There is no rational explanation for this nonsense.

As an after thought, what is more basic than one who toils the soil and grows food and transports it to his customers direct. If he cannot perform this function with freedom, what is freedom. Is this the state to which we have fallen. The problem is the small man does not have a voice, the big man has a voice but is not thus inconvenienced as he is too well off to be concerned about the daily struggle of living. So those who make the laws are not aware of those who have to live by them and how they suffer as a result.

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