Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) today published a list of short codes to be used in case of emergencies and to access other e-gov services. They will work on any phone, mobile or fixed from any operator. Emergency calls are free. To access a service, normal call charges apply.
Public are advised to use these codes as per the specific nature of emergency. (note the word ‘Optimum’) For example, if you see the next door TV station is set fire by terrorists, call 118. It connects you to Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order. If the same attack is done by some other party, better call 119, and contact Police. If they take time to come you may also want to call 110 to notify Fire Unit of Colombo Municipal Council. If you see a UFO – try 116. For Operation Commander it is 114; Colombo Municipal Council 115.
Can’t remember all? Here are the options. Fixed phone: Paste advertisement anywhere near. Mobile: Enter all numbers to your address book or carry a laminated copy of the ad in your pocket.
Redundancy is good, particularly when effectiveness is questionable. If one number does not work, try another. On the other hand having a long list of numbers is confusing. Why not have a single number – like 911 in USA – for all emergencies? (something easy to remember, even for a kid) Why complicate the process?
The answer perhaps lies in a uniquely Sri Lankan phenomenon: Government agencies do not talk to each other – may be they are from different planets. So settle for the next best. Everyone is on one’s own. That works better – at least till the public do not mind carrying laminated copies of the list of numbers.
Just one more question: Why charge for using ‘Child Help Line’? Aren’t the ‘marginalised children in need of care and protection’ (TRCSL wording) a group that deserves a toll free call?