All Ceylon Railway Employees’ General Union (ACREGU), also known as Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna’s railway trade union, have started its usual criticism over the National Railway Museum which is currently under construction.
The above railway trade union alleges that a private firm, which is not owned by the Railway Department, is preparing to start a business using the name National Railway Museum.
They made the same allegation several times from the inception of the National Railway Museum. Except this, construction work of the National Railway Museum face no other obstructions, and are successfully carried out marking a historical turning point.
The National Railway Museum is constructed with the support of People’s Bank at a cost of Rs 300 million. Its construction includes widening the railway museum at the old Fort railway station.
Museum is not a problem to the Railway Department, but it is to Withanage
Even though this museum is built in a land belonging to the Railway Department, the Railway Department does not have to give any support except providing institutional and labor contribution when needed. Everything is legal, in fact, all the Railway Department has to do is wait until it’s finished.
ACREGU’s problem is that the Railway Department has nothing to do with this regard.
They allege that public funds and properties are used to maintain a private firm. By public funds, they are referring to the money of People’s Bank. By public properties, they are referring to the lands belonging to the Railway Department. If they are correct, public funds and properties are actually being used to give something to the country.
Chairman of People’s Bank and Chief of President’s Staff Hemasiri Fernando took the initiative to implement this project. It’s his concept.
Everybody must ignore their grudges and be happy about People’s Bank’s project which attempts to protect historical heritages. This is the history of the country, this is the history of the railway service. There are many stories around this mode of transportation which altered the economic and social status of Sri Lanka. It should be conveyed to the future generation. Looking at it as something wrong is a problem.
Leech that cannot be kept on pillow
Chairman of People’s Bank Hemasiri Fernando took the initiative to commence this project which could not be implemented by neither the Railway Department nor the government. Today, People’s Bank has taken the full weight of this project as they understand its value.
Viceroy special luxury train, Viceroy-2 special luxury train and T-1-515 special rail car service have been already started by JF Tour and Travels Lanka in partnership with the Railway Department. Co-convener of ACREGU S.P. Withanage claims that Hemasiri Fernando has disappointed the Railway Department.
Both the Railway Department and Withanage are aware of the fact that it’s not true. But, just like a leech cannot be kept on a pillow, Withanage does not like to accept the truth, it does not matter how obvious it is. They keep saying ‘not okay, useless, not like that…etc.’
This is clearly an unfortunate situation
How can the Railway Department be destroyed by an international-level railway museum given to the country by People’s Bank, it is unclear. And the other question is, how can it lead to a waste of public money? Not only People’s Bank, many other state and private institutions implement these kinds of social service projects. There are no legal restrictions against it. Benefits of these projects are not limited to any particular party, benefits are available to the general public. Therefore, they are obstructing and making false accusations against one of the country’s resources.
It may not be valuable to Withanage’s politics, but it is essential to the future of the country.
If the allegations against JF Tour and Travels are true, the ACREGU must be able to prove it. Giving media statements without proving their allegations is simply pointless.
Allegations against the railway museum must not be limited to words, must be proved with facts. But this railway trade union doesn’t do so. Perhaps they are following the Goebbels Theory, because they are repeating the same story again and again.
Cat out of the sack – fooling the entire public service in broad daylight
It has been proven that ACREGU Co-convener S.P. Withanage engaged in trade union work throughout the last year without the permission of the Railway Department.
He had been released as a trade union activist when he was serving as a Management Assistant (Labor) at the ticket-printing branch of Railway Chief Accountant’s office.
He had acted as a trade union activist from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2017 without proper recommendations of the Railway General Manager or Transport Ministry Secretary, or prior permission of the Public Administration Ministry. He had thereby committed a serious offence by accepting all payments and benefits during the past year.
Moreover, he has also been accused of attempting to mislead investigations. He has come forward without hesitation to defame the Railway Department and the entire public service.
He fooled the entire Railway Department and the entire public service. But the Railway Department has no spine to take action against his wrongdoings. We have to solve the Railway Department’s inability to take action against him even with the results of a proper investigation.
Subject ministry also acts childishly. They allege that the money spent for the National Railway Museum is a misuse of public funds and property, while putting public funds in their pockets illegally. We ask the entire trade union whether it’s right.
Puppets in Railway Department
Railway Department is aware of the fact that he is being protected by a former high ranking officer of the Railway Department and a former Secretary of the Transport Ministry. They can make Withanage dance as they want. That is why they are creating more issues within the department, while there are real issues that needs to be solved.
Withanage talks about the Railway Department, but he has no interest in talking about the properties of the Railway Department such as millions worth trains that have been abandoned in Maradana and Dematagoda railway stations. He must know that those trains revive in the national museum site.
National Railway Museum is a gift to the Railway Department, an honor. They do not have to bear any costs. Taking the current situation of the Railway Department into account, financing such a project is a dream. But now, People’s Bank has taken the initiative to do that. What’s important is understanding and giving support.
Hemasiri Fernando is the main character of this National Railway Museum project. He serves as the Chairman of People’s Bank and also the Chief of President’s Staff. In this context, that is also a topic of discussion for trade unions such as Withanage. To a certain extent, it is a tragic outcome of this country’s politics. These kinds of trade unions attempt to relate it to every person, however, people in this country are still intelligent enough to differentiate various individuals.