The Colombo Municipal
Council has always been in the news since the last election but
more often than not for the wrong reasons. It is the general
feeling among the Colombo ratepayers that the CMC is today in a
state of drift with many of its basic duties and functions
It is also hamstrung by lawsuits stemming from neglect and
inefficiency. But the cancer eating into its vitals is the large
scale corruption that has virtually emasculated this premier
local body in the country.
It is in this context that a decision taken by the Western
Province Governor Alavi Mowlana to haul all the CMC councillors
over the coals is to be welcomed. A One Man Commission is to be
appointed to probe each and every member of the Colombo
By implication this means a probe into the 'doings' of each
council member during their tenure so far. It is worthwhile if
the assets of the members are investigated and they are made to
account for the extra possessions.
This no doubt is a timely move which would be welcomed by the
long suffering ratepayers of Colombo city. The CMC has long been
notorious for being a healthy milch cow for corrupt council
members and staff.
This extends from the highest to the lowest among the
denizens at the CMC. It was only recently it was revealed how
CMC workers had clocked in for duties at the council but found
to be employed elsewhere. It is the ratepayers finally who have
to pick the tab.
Today it is no secret that not only the CMC but almost all
local bodies in the country are deeply mired in corruption. Most
of the money is made through tenders by delivering shoddy work.
These local Government members have done well for themselves
while ignoring the needs of the public.
The state of affairs at the Colombo Municipal Council stands
out like a sore thumb in comparison. Of course the writing was
on the wall when an independent group was installed into the
seats of power at the CMC.
It is apparent those who were elected are unequal to the
gigantic task at hand. Already a Commission had released its
findings on the shenanigans of the various members of the
Council. It appears that CMC members are only busy fattening
themselves at the expense of ratepayers while neglecting their
The state of the City during the recent rains only goes to
reinforce the point that the CMC is a sleeping giant. True,
responsibility for poor infrastructure such as derelict sewerage
systems cannot be laid only at the doorstep of the CMC.
But it is evident that even the most mundane functions such
as clearing garbage or repairing a broken gully are not attended
to. The time has come for the Government to take firm charge of
redeveloping the capital city.
We have time and again said in these columns that Colombo as
the Capital City should receive the topmost attention of the
Government. There was hastily done work to spruce up the city
for the recent SAARC summit.
But regrettably this is now fading away once again relegating
the City to its former self. There is a need for coordinated
action to bring back Colombo to its former glory days when it
was known as the Garden City of Asia.
True, this is a herculean task not least because of the
enormous cost. There are also logistical problems to be overcome
particularly the huge migrant population inhabiting the City
unlike in those spacious relaxed days where congestion was
The Government should study models in certain Asian countries
where they have succeeded in overcoming this congestion with
expert town planning measures. There may be a necessity to
relocate some of the commercial establishments and bustling
trade centres in order to pave the way for an effective
In this regard the decision taken to shift the landmark St.
John's Fish market to a suburban area is a move in the right
Similar changes in other areas too are needed if the Colombo
is to be rid of its squalor and congestion and return to its
former tranquil status.