Jaffna is Opening Up
My recent trip to Jaffna I must admit was very different to previous visits. It was the first time after the end of the war I was able to visit the northern Peninsular of Sri Lanka. As usual I flew to Jaffna on a domestic airline. It costs 21,000 LKR (186 US$) for the return ticket to Jaffna, a price which I always thought was too high for anyone, especially when you can travel to India for half that price. Only a few people could afford it and the service and the waiting time was not at all appealing. But this time as I was travelling, the Government requested all private airlines to reduce their prices.
Jaffna was expereincing a vast difference. For over two years, the people of the peninsular were under curfew from evening to morning and public transport and civil movement came to a halt around 4 pm. But this time, the curfew times have reduced drastically and the people were out on the streets till about 7 pm. Not only that, everyone was getting ready for the festival of the ever so famouse Nallur Temple.. which is ten yards away from Save the Children office. Thousands of people will come for this festival which is on for 25 days. My own colleagues were so releived and happy about the changes.
While I was there, I witnessed the first civil movement along the A9 road, the main road from Jaffna to the rest of the island which was closed as a result of the armed conflict. Five brand new buses of the Sri Lanka Transport Board left Jaffna with civilian passengers. The cost per trip is just 325 LRK ( just 3 US$). Perhaps next time I can travel by road and save a lot of money , I thought to myself.
And what I felt most was that the absence of war has brought a sense of peace to the Northern most part of our little island.