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    71st Independence Day tomorrow

    February 03, 2019

    They polished their shoes and brass buttons and ironed their starched uniforms. Tracked tanks, armoured cars and troop carriers were being readied. Air Force helicopters and aircraft ran trial sorties in the Galle Face sky as Naval patrol craft formed an interesting backdrop at sea.

    This is how they readied for Sri Lanka’s 71st Independence Day tomorrow. Though it was from British rule, there was an unexpected Chinese element to tomorrow’s event. Not that they were interfering in the ceremonies. Sri Lankans were lapping of hundreds of Sri Lanka flags to wave and hoist at homes from them. They were cheaper.

    Kollupitiya Junction to Fort ceramic junction (Lotus Road) will be closed today, as the final rehearsals take place.Pavement flag seller E.G. Sarath, who sold electronic items such as headphones and cell phone chargers on other days, had a small table covered with flags. He was selling them near the overhead pedestrian crossing in the Fort.
    The vendor said he had been selling the flags for the past three days and sales were increasing.He revealed that he bought all the flags from a wholesale shop that sold China-made Sri Lankan national flags and they were cheap.

    He said he bought the big China-made flags for Rs. 125 each and sold them for Rs. 200, while the same size Sri Lanka-made flag cost about Rs. 450.
    Another vendor, S.H.M Mohamad, who was selling adhesives at the Bo-tree junction in Pettah, said locally made flags were not properly made with the sides and borders not stitched but their price was Rs. 450 for a big flag. Even the flagpole was not properly made and therefore, he was not selling flags this year, because he did not want to buy flags made in China.
    He also charged that the China-made flags were poor in quality and the colour could even fade before they were hoisted.Businessman A. Francis who bought a small flag for his grandson said the vendors must give priority to local flags, rather than selling foreign products because they were cheap.
    “I am trying to teach my grandson patriotism at an early age. He is five years old. I am going to fix this flag on his bicycle. We should teach our children to love the country. To do that we should at least buy them a locally made flag,” he saidHe said he had also hoisted locally-made flags at the house and hoped to watch with his grandchild the telecast of the National Day parade..

    At the Galle Face parade, the main ceremony involves more than 5,600 security forces personnel — 3,620 Sri Lanka Army, about 1,250 from the Navy, about 830 from the Sri Lanka Air Force, about 800 from the Police, about 500 from the Civil Defense Forces and about 100 cadets.
    There will also be a cultural parade.Meanwhile, bus and threewheeler drivers expressed anger over the huge traffic jam when rehearsals were held.
    Buses coming from Moratuwa towards Colombo were diverted at Kollupitiya junctions and had to proceed towards Kompannaveediya on their way to Fort.Bus driver Smapath Kumara said the worst traffic jam was on Thursday morning.
    He said that he normally operated three rounds with one diesel filling, but on Thursday, he had to make an extra filling because of the traffic.He also missed his third turn.
    Three-wheeler driver Neville Sugathapema said traffic was so heavy and he had only a few hires.“We are a strange country, we lose our freedom to celebrate our Independence Day. I am not against celebrating independence, but the traffic plan needs to be well organised and must not affect the day-to-day transportation of the people.Several other Independence Day events are to be held in other parts of the country tomorrow.


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