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Dengue Ravages Ratmalana Railway Yard

  • 2 Dead, 100 Sick

By Nirmala Kannangara

One hundred people working at the Ratmalana Railway Yard have been infected with the deadly dengue virus while two have already succumbed to the fever.
When The Sunday Leader visited the site we were refused entry and had to smuggle a photograph when the gates were momentarily opened.
The yard which spans some 80 acres and located in Belekkade Junction, Ratmalana is used primarily as a maintenance and repair section for Sri Lanka Railways and has been filled with discarded rail lines, rail carriages and a variety of metals objects.
The place is on the verge of being shut down after employees were struck with the deadly dengue virus.
Treasurer, All Ceylon Railway Employees General Union (ACREGU) Gamini Wijesundera told The Sunday Leader that unless the railway yard is cleaned and free of mosquito breeding sites, the situation will become more serious.
According to him, two people have died over the past week and over 100 employees have contracted dengue hemorrhagic fever and are being treated at the Nagoda and Kalubowila General Hospitals.
Most of those admitted are in reportedly serious condition.
Public Health Inspectors from the Dehiwela-Mt. Lavinia Municipal Council who inspected the railway yard premises confirmed that they could not find a single site that was free of mosquito larvae. They have filed legal action against the Chief Mechanical Engineer,” Wijesundera said.
According to Wijesundera, the drains are filled with thick layers of oil and the water beneath it has become a fertile ground for mosquito breeding.
“The situation is going from bad to worse. The workers have stopped cleaning the premises as their overtime was stopped recently. The government appointed welfare officers who are responsible for keeping the railway yard clean do nothing,” he charged.
Chief Mechanical Engineer, Ratmalana Railway Yard, S. M. Abeywickrema said that it is the responsibility of all sub departments at the railway yard to keep their environment clean and free of mosquito breeding sites.
“Although I am the head of this site, that does not mean I have to look into each and every single corner of this 80 acre yard. It is the responsibility of all the heads of the sub departments to clean their sites. In addition, the drainage system and gutters which are over 40 years old have to be renovated and the blocked canals cleaned,” Abeywickrema told The Sunday Leader.
2,449 dengue cases and eight deaths have so far been reported as at January 26 this year.

4 Comments for “Dengue Ravages Ratmalana Railway Yard”

  1. Aru

    How could the Chief Mechanical Engineer pass the buck when he is in overall charge of the Yard? In this part of the world nobody likes to shoulder responsibility. To teach everyone a lesson of their lifetime the authorities should impose severe punishments on all those who turned a blind eye on such a grave situation. They are not paid salaries for warming their chairs. If citizen Perera was responsible he would have been fined, jailed or both. Don’t let these men go scot free.

    • Sadni

      Ever heard of the term ‘Delegation’…? It is silly to assume or expect a single person to look into 80 acres of maintenance yards.

  2. krishan canagasabey

    If I was working there I would sue them on grounds of health and safety!! but maybe in sri lanka there is no such thing!!

  3. Andrew

    FAVOURED BREEDING PLACES
    Desert coolers, Drums, Jars, Pots, Buckets, Flower vases, Plant saucers, Tanks, Cisterns, Bottles, Tins, Tyres, Roof gutters, Refrigerator drip pans, Cement blocks, Cemetery urns, Bamboo stumps, Coconut shells, Tree holes and many more places where rainwater collects or is stored.
    TREATMENT OF DENGUE & DHF
    A. At domestic & Peri-domestic/institutional level
    Drain out the water from Desert Coolers at least once a week and observe Dry Day.
    Put two table spoons of Kerosene oil or Petrol in the coolers which can not be dried.
    Ensure that Over Head Tank has tight fitting lid
    Do not store water, if water has to be stored it should be done in the containers that has proper lids
    Ensure there is no waste material that is capable of holding water is lying in the premises /roof top etc. Discard it immediately.
    If an ornamental Pond/Fountain/Water Fall is being maintained in the premises, Zonal Municipal Health Authorities may be requested to introduce Gambusia- Larvivorous fish ( small fish that eat up the larvae of mosquito) in these water bodies

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