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Rebuilding a Nation

Since the war stopped in Sri Lanka the Government has had a major problem – what do you do with hundreds of thousands of troops you have had fighting for 30 years?

The answer was always to use the trained killers to help rebuild the Nation and finally the work is starting to make itself known and particularly with the rebuilding of the old English built race track in Reid Avenue, Colombo.

Originally built in 1893 by the British, it has fallen into a terrible state of disrepair and recently found itself being used as temporary lodgings for troops based in Colombo; who have not been treating the grand old stands with anywhere near the level of respect they deserve.

The history of the Race Track has been quite varied, including use as a temporary airfield during World War II for the Royal Air Force.

Consisting only of a single runway, station headquarters and the officers mess were set up in the bungalows in Cinnamon Gardens and was serviced by a newly established military hospital in the premises of Royal College Colombo.

After the war the airfield was dismantled, horse racing resumed only to be permanently stopped when it was banned after Ceylon gained independence in 1948.

In the 60’s the Government actively looked to take on more students at the University in Colombo than they had room and in some years took on 3000 plus students against facilities that couldn’t even manage the planned 1000 places. The answer for where to hold the lectures fell on the Grand Stand at the Race Course, where loud speakers were used to transmit the words of the professors.

If you think that this must have turned out a bunch of half wits – then remember that the current Minister of Education happened to be in the 1965 batch that used the Race Course for lectures and form your own opinion…

Now the stands are being rebuilt whilst maintaining as much of the original as is possible and the old race track is becoming a rugby pitch for Sri Lanka to try and bring international games to the country.

The last time a cease fire prevailed in Sri Lanka (2002) and thousands of troops were released into the public, the instances of domestic violence, theft and worse increased and so this time it is the Ministry of Defense that is running the Urban Development Authority and the soldiers being used will remain on active duty – to be called upon should the current state change and the war recommence.

Posted by simon on November 14, 2011
2 Comments Post a comment
  1. 11/22/2011

    A really really intriguing post! Ill try to track that continues here! Thank you.


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