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Monday, 13 September 2010






Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

For a better Colombo

According to a weekend newspaper a Development Authority under the Defence Ministry is to be set to take over the functions of the Colombo Municipal Council, the country’s premier local Government body. We don’t know how far this is true in the absence of an official statement. But if indeed this is the case it may be the best thing that can happen to the city of Colombo which is today lying in an utter derelict and decrepit state.

The neglect is there for all to see. There is also a general sense of drift with no one knowing who really is in charge of the CMC. To say that the city is in an utter mess would indeed be an understatement. Take the entrance to the capital city at the Victoria Bridge. What greets the visitor at this main gateway to the city of Colombo is a towering garbage mountain.

Proceed a couple of hundred metres and what one beholds in the large network of shanties and slums. Further into the interior the visitor is assailed by the unbearable stench emanating from Beire Lake and its assorted tributaries.

The unkept state of streets lined with rotting garbage, the crumbling buildings and edifices and the general state of neglect completes the picture of the country’s capital city. Add to this is the frequent flooding, squalid market places and run down public utilities and amenities, all making the Colombo city a veritable eyesore. Of course all these ills cannot be laid at the doorstep of the CMC. But there can be no denying that it has failed miserably where the upkeep of the city is concerned.

On the contrary in most instances it has been the main cause for most of the ills afflicting the city. The problems that have beset the administration have only compounded the problem. While city administration has collapsed the problems of the city such as dengue kept multiplying.

It has to be said that the Colombo Municipal Council has outlived itself. It is not equipped to handle the complex problems of the city in this modern age. Neither could its hidebound administration grasp the present day realities and devise solutions. The CMC is today only reacting to situations without any forward plans. Its Dengue eradication program is a case in point. It allowed garbage dumps to multiply and waterways to pollute. It galvanized into action only after the disease spread. The CMC lacks vision, drive and initiative. Indifference, lethargy, political intrigue etc. has made it moribund. This is hardly the recipe for the development and emancipation of a capital city in this modern day and age.

There has to be a dynamism to get things moving. Besides the CMC in its present state is not equipped to cope with the massive demands of maintaining the Colombo city. There needs to be an autonomous body with power and resources to lift the city from its parlous state.

Colombo as a whole needs to be replanned in line with the other developments taking place in the post war era. There is also a necessity to relay new infrastructure such as the century old sewerage systems that cause frequent flooding. In short Colombo has to undergo a huge transformation that befits the status of the nation’s commercial capital.

Hence the need for a more pro-active body with a vision to develop Colombo into a modern city to the level of the world’s major cities. Hopefully the proposed Authority under the Defence Ministry would fit the bill. We have already seen how the UDA under the Defence Secretary got rid of the illegal structures in the city.

This was a sore point with the CMC and also with certain city politicians. But Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa acted firmly in this regard. It is such firm decisions without vacillation that is needed to make Colombo a modern progressive city. Today the pavements are free of obstacles to the general public and the city rid of an eyesore.

Judging from its success we are sure that all other unsavoury elements and obstacle that keep the city of Colombo from growing would be removed. It was reported the new Authority would also rid the city of all slums and provide alternative accommodation to the dwellers.

This is a problem that defied solution all these years. For one thing the slum dwellers themselves were reluctant to move out given their entrenched lifestyles that included illegal activities such as the drug trade and other vices which they could not ply in the open. They were also a haven for the underworld. Now with the Defence Ministry in the forefront this problem could be easily solved and the city rid of a major eyesore.

What the city of Colombo needs is a holistic solution encompassing its development into a modern city. Therefore a blue print should be drawn for the city identifying the areas that needs improvement. With plans to relocate all Government establishments and buildings at Sri Jayawardenapura there is scope for making the Colombo the Garden City it was famed for in the past.

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