No machine in the world lasts forever, says Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka

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Any machine or equipment could break down and there are no machine in the world that lasts forever, MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka said. He was responding to many in parliament who were commenting on the elevator issue that took place in Parliament yesterday.

“Even some rockets sent to space also break down. If the Opposition MPs are so afraid of their lives to use the lifts, then they could use the staircase adjoining the lifts,” he said.

About 12 MPs and also Deputy Minister Ranjith Aluvihare, Chairman of the House Committee got stuck in the elevator at the parliament complex yesterday for over 15 minutes and some said that they had made several emergency calls and it had taken more than 15 minutes for the technical staff to respond.

Many expressed their views in Parliament. MP Dinesh Gunawardena said they were not able to get in touch with those responsible by using a phone within the lift. “I entered parliament in 1983, but had never faced such a situation until today,” MP Gunawardena alleged and noted that the lives of MPs were at risk for want of proper maintenance of lifts in Parliament.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said he would look into the matter.

Leader of the House, Minister Lakshman Kiriella said it was serious matter. “These issues should be investigated properly as when something goes wrong in parliament there is no one to take responsibility. If the emergency call was answered as soon as the lift got stuck, the issue could have been resolved fast.”

Minister Kiriella also raised the issue of insurance cover for the MPs. “Insurance of Rs. 200,000 for MPs is insufficient.  I think we need to get a new lift. During Ravi Karunanayake’s tenure, he proposed to install a new lift. I ask the Speaker to look into this issue and punish those responsible.”

Minister Ravi Karunanayake said a few months back a similar elevator mishap had happened where a person lost his life. “The President and Prime Minister have stated that there should be a mechanism to identify and punish those responsible for such situations. There are 25,800 lifts in the country which are not registered. Hence, we intend to make it mandatory to maintain the lifts annually and display the certification near the lift. Let’s start this process from parliament,” he said. A positive approach towards eliminating such issues pertaining to elevators in the future