|18 USAID-built shops idle due
By M.I.M.S. Anwar,
Some 18 shops are still idling for more than two
years at the new CTB bus terminal building in
Kalmunai, without being rented or leased out by the
Kalmunai Municipal Council, thus denying commuters
easy access to shops, and depriving small
businessmen of their livelihood, while also
depriving the municipality of revenue.
The old Kalmunai CTB bus stand near the entrance to
the Santhankerny playground was demolished on the
instruction of the former SLMC leader late M.H.M.
Ashraff, against the wishes of the CTB and the then
minister of transport A.H.M. Fowzie within a single
night, to stage the 12th delegates convention of the
SLMC at this ground in 1998. During that time, the
two Muslim ministers were always in the habit of
locking-horns even over trivial matters, to be the
pre-eminent Muslim in the country, one being a
ruling party member and the other, leader of the
SLMC and a Cabinet Minister.
The bus stand was temporarily relocated to a place
adjoining the public library, at the expense of
citizens who patronised this library for reading in
silence. From then onwards, the CTB bus stand
functioning there was made permanent, without a
proper building or sheds, till the tsunami
devastated the coastal areas of the Ampara district
in December 2004.
People here say that this bus stand would have
remained the same until now, if not for the golden
tsunami and USAID in Ampara assisting the tsunami
devastated areas to redevelop. The bus commuters who
were exposed to the sun and the rain and suffering
in silence since 1998, were highly pleased with this
gift from the USAID.
It constructed the new terminal with 18 shops for
the benefit of bus commuters. Despite the CTB having
started its operation from this building, since its
opening more than two years ago, none of the 18
shops in it were let out to people to do business,
for reasons believed to be political.
It is said that former Kalmunai Mayor H.M.M. Harris
did not want to rent out these shops for fear of his
supporters breaking away from him, as he had
promised too many of them, with shops here.
According to Kalmunai CTB Depot Superintendent
Subaideen, more than 15,000 commuters use the
Kalmunai bus stand daily, to proceed to various
places in the south, west and the north as far as
Mayor of Kalmunai Senator Mashoor Mowlana when
queried as to why these shops were not rented or
leased out, told The Nation that he took office two
months ago, and was only able to have the shops
valued by the Valuation Department.
He said that on receiving the Valuation report,
Tenders would be called and the shops would be
distributed to the highest bidders. According to
him, these shops would be released for business
within two months or so, on receipt of the Valuation