As if we had not left at all! The joy of our reunion with Carema and Roni said something else. “Our” room had been thoroughly cleaned and prepared for our stay and in our honor, there had been a new shower head installed in the bathroom. The water pressure from it, exceled the country average by far.
The meals were extensive as always and Roni and I contributed by fishing at the lagoon at 6 a.m. Although I have to admit that our contribution was almost non-existent, but we did have a lot to talk about.
Nothing has changed in Hambantota. The landowners at the lagoon got new plots of land but there is still no date of eviction given, nor any compensation payments. Carema and Roni silently hope that this will go on for a couple of more years. Their wish is likely to be fulfilled.
Just recently the Prime Minister went on an inspection tour of Hambantota. He looked at the harbor, the airport, the cricket stadium, the film studios (I wrote about a visit there in an earlier report), the construction site of a huge hospital, and a zoological garden as well as a botanical garden. (Hambantota is in the dry zone suffering frequently from severe droughts.)
The new Government is setting up Commissions that have to come up with ideas on how to make use of all these expensive “white elephants”. The Minister of Sports bragged that the stadium would be leased out for weddings or other gatherings for a fee of Rs. 10,000. The cost of construction was a staggering Rs. 4.2 Billion …………. And who is celebrating a wedding with a crowd in need of a cricket station, if there is no infrastructure in the area for the guests? A huge fence advertising a Hyatt Regency hotel coming, has been torn down and is rotting. There will be no construction on that land in the near future.
Also, the highly advertised calls from cruise ships at the harbor are only causing problems. The buses for the passengers have to be brought in from Colombo to take them to the Yale National Park. If there are three dozen jeeps (8 seater, one driver, one guide leaves space for 6 tourists) roaming the park at the same time it is very crowded…………do the math! A fact that will spread on cruise ship forums in no time.
A lot of people had invested in Hambantota due to the promises of the ex-President and lost their money. The economic situation of the area is going from bad to worse – nothing new in Hambantota!