Speaker promises to look into matter | Daily News
Several MPs get stuck inside Parliament elevator:

Speaker promises to look into matter

Raising a point of order Joint Opposition MP Wimal Weerawansa said that 12 MPs including Dinesh Gunawardena and himself were stuck in a Parliament elevator for over 15 minutes before measures were taken to get them out.

“Having made several emergency calls following instructions placed in the lift, it took over 15 minutes for those in charge to respond. There is no point in the authorities apologizing when those stuck in the lift almost suffocated.”

In response, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya assured that he would look into the matter.

Expressing his views regarding the mishap in Parliament yesterday, MP Dinesh Gunawardena said several attempts to obtain help using the emergency phone located within the lift, had failed.

“I was first elected to Parliament in 1983, but never had to face such a situation where we were stuck in the lift for 23 minutes. Deputy Minister Ranjith Aluvihare, Chairman of the House Committee who is responsible for such matters was also in the lift. But, even he could not take any action. We pass hundreds of thousands of rupees from Parliament and at least if these lifts in the Parliament complex cannot be maintained properly and the lives of these MPs are at risk, then I urge the Speaker to look into this issue,” he said.

In between the raising of concern by the MPs who were stuck in the lift, several other MPs made jokes about their plight in lighter vein, much to the annoyance of the victims of this mishap.

Meanwhile, MP Gunawardena asked the Speaker, “would a new elevator be fixed and would it be maintained properly? If not you should post a notice for those who do not want to risk their lives to use the lift. We are public representatives and without putting our lives at risk, you should address this issue.”

Adding to the issue, Wimal Weerawansa noted that almost all Colombo MPs were stuck in the list except Gammanpila. “This might be a joke to many, but it is no joke, people’s lives are at risk. Even you, who might be the next Presidential candidate, so someone might even try to have you stuck in the lift.”

In response, Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella said this issue was no joke but a serious matter. “These issues should be investigated properly as when something goes wrong in Parliament there is no one to take responsibility. Those responsible pass the ball. If the emergency call was answered as soon as the lift got stuck, the issue would have been resolved.”

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

MP Bandula Gunawardena who was one of those stuck in the lift, said in his 30-year Parliamentary career, this is the first time he had experienced getting stuck in a lift. “This incident could have happened to even the leaders. After a few minutes of being stuck in it, we realised the gravity of the situation when we experienced a slight sweat and realised that soon we would be out of air.”

In response, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said he would seriously look into this issue and the relevant company representatives would be summoned tomorrow and see if a new elevator needs to be installed.

However, MP Chaminda Wijesiri said that this lift had got stuck for the first time during the commotions in Parliament in November last year and that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was stuck in the same lift. “This is a conspiracy and the Speaker should look onto this matter. This is a situation where they have fallen into the same pit they dug for others.”

Meanwhile, Minister Ravi Karunanayake expressing his views said a few months back, a similar elevator mishap happened where a person lost his life.

“The President and Prime Minister both stated that there should be a mechanism where there should be those responsible for such situations. There are 25,800 lifts in the country which are not registered. Hence, we intend to bring a proposal to Parliament where it would be made mandatory to maintain these lifts annually and display the certification near the lift. Let’s start this process from Parliament,” he said.

 

 


 

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