Yaka Misses the Bus


The Anglo-US oil monopoly ended only in 1961, with the rise of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, but not for long. Their displeasure was made most manifest in 1962’s attempted coup. By 1977, the robber barons were framing national policy again.

We almost fell off a public bus, and we thought of Messrs. Ford, Rockefeller and Morgan. We wanted to congratulate these US robber barons (with their, Japanese and Indian quadranglers) on capturing our national transportation policy (and public sex policy) – nicely done! 

We remember them while wrestling with 20 other workers for the bottom step of the bus or train at rush hour. In those moments after awaking from our dreams, sobering up on the public highways, gulping the profaned mists of morning’s monoxides. 

We flutter outside doorless doors like weary streamers clutching an indifferent kite tossed in a wicked wind, tugged by a lurching drunk after a wild party. On these first and last steps are shirts and ties, skirts and saris. The reddhas and sarongs are already at work. Several polished shoes and plastic slippers levitate in the air. Some bare knuckles cling off windows and handles. All our lives hinging on a few well-screwed screws. 

The bus resembles a cubist (actually Benin!) imbroglio – not quite Picasso, but more real. Writhing bodies. Glistening deities. Gaping eyes under armpits. A bag there. A hip here. A bill to be paid, a file to be pored over, crushed in a fist. A crotch. An elbow. An application form. A high-heel. Two bald heads. Several backsides.

Who choreographs this national drama of unarmed bodies pressing the flesh’s epidermal expanses? Enacted in thousands of transports across the country in unison, sardined between careening driver and barking conductor or ticket collector, from front door bottleneck to seats reserved for clergy, disabled and pregnant in front, to the able-bodied unordained, and those not-yet-expectant lovers, pickpockets and sinners who monopolize the last seats by the back door.

Are we were a truly capitalist country, despite our name? If so, don’t capitalists wish their workers to expend their sweat at work? Want them to arrive fresh, not like already-squeezed-out tea bags? Apparently not.

In merchant-run countries, the tail wags the dog. Tourism and transport, normally ancillary to industry, are instead proclaimed industries, yet making neither planes nor buses! 

As the bus shrugged me out and fled, I noticed it said: Budhu Saranai and Lanka Tata Leyland (LTL). Like the Holy Roman Empire, neither holy nor empire; or KFC, neither Kentuckian nor chicken, I wondered which of LTL was Lanka, where serenity, and whence the rest? 20% of India’s Tata Industries was bought in 1996 by old English opium dealer Jardine Matheson (linked to Rothschilds bank), to control motor-vehicle distribution and retailing, etc. in our world. 

A Century of Monopoly

By 1884, English, Belgian and German rail manufacturers had set up an international rail cartel: not competing in their own domestic markets, they divided foreign markets by quota, with Lanka and India exclusively for English firms. Railways were symbols of that capitalist period, depending on iron and coal.

Monopolists in iron & steel, coal, chemicals, textiles, food, automobile & transport had arisen by 1900, controlling 10,000s of patents of new inventions. Westinghouse monopolized electrical manufacturing via Hungarian inventor Tesla’s multiphase alternating-current system and Stanley’s transformers. Edison and Thomson’s patents on the electric lamp, generator and meter handed monopoly to General Electric. Synthetics and manufacturing processes gave Dupont their monopoly. Alexander Bell’s patent engendered powerful Bell, AT&T & ITT monopolies.

Monopoly combines first divided the domestic market of a country, and as export capital increased, their international agreements led to cartels, e.g. in electricity (GE, Siemens), oil (Rockefeller, Rothschild & Nobel), shipping (Morgan), iron & steel (US Steel, Bethlehem, Vickers) – redividing monopolies led to the slaughters of Europe’s tribal wars: WW1 and WW2.

Their god created the world, they say, but Ford, Rockefeller and Morgan recreated the world in the 1920s. In 1920, General Motors Co., Standard Oil of California (Esso’s Chevron), and Firestone Tires formed National City Lines to buy up and destroy electric rail systems across the USA.

In 1936, the tax-evading Ford Foundation was formed, like its Rockefeller predecessor, to buy off intellectuals and artists. In 1938, with exclusive dealership arrangements and equity funding to increase sales of commercial buses and supplies, NCL bought over 100 electric streetcar systems in 45 major US cities (including New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles), dismantling them in the ‘Great American Streetcar Scandal’. 

In 1949, they were convicted for monopolizing bus sales, but acquitted overall. In 1956, alleging invasion from the USSR, these oil and auto capitalists pushed the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act for freeways to be built across all US states.

Missing the Bus

In 1921, when the Kolonnava oil storage and port pipeline network was commissioned, Anglo-US oil companies Shell, Esso and Caltex controlled Lanka’s oil import, storage and distribution. They soon stalled development of public railways in favor of private vehicles.

During the 1953 Hartal, people stoned the private companies’ buses, and unions called for nationalization of bus services, plus coordination of rail and road transport. 1955’s historic bus strike at the South Western Bus Co. owned by ‘Sir’ Cyril De Zoysa, and mass murder by competing mudalalis, led to SWRD Bandaranaike’s promise to nationalize the bus companies (which he did in 1958, setting up the CTB).

The Anglo-US oil monopoly ended only in 1961, with the rise of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, but not for long. Their displeasure was made most manifest in 1962’s attempted coup. By 1977, the robber barons were framing national policy again.

Their power remains most apparent not just on the ‘final’ steps of these private buses. Media claiming fare hikes followed ‘strikes’ is not just bad English. These are lockouts of the public by private interests. But who do you think owns the bus owners? Those intellectuals, artistes, and unionists funded by the Ford Foundations, etc., could tell us.

Yaka still loves to take public buses and trains! Who needs theatre and cinema? It is a privatized national drama competition.

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