In an exclusive interview with Daily Mirror, Colombo Mayoress Rosy Senanayake who made headlines following the presidential poll spoke on various issues including allegations of bribery and corruption and of her being summoned by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Q How will UNP-controlled CMC coordinate with SLPP-led central government and President Rajapaksa?
I will have to coordinate with the central government as the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) cannot function independently. We have to liaise with the government when implementing certain projects such as the new city drainage system project and sewerage project. We have to work with line ministries when carrying out these projects. Besides, I expect the newly-elected President to propose a permanent solution to the garbage disposal issue. I fought to come up with a permanent solution. We called for tenders for garbage disposal but only one enterprise showed interest to which we granted the tender. We had to negotiate with them to bring down the charges. When former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was in office, I went to him to try and resolve the garbage disposal issue, especially in Aruwakkalu. However, he was unable to come up with a solution though he tried. Furthermore, I negotiated with other relevant local bodies, particularly the ones in the locality of the Kerawalapitiya garbage dump. It has never been easy for a woman to fight for such issues but I did.
Q Some say CMC was not allowed to work on its own by the incumbent President when he was Defence Secy. before 2015?
I am oblivious to the events that unfolded before I assumed office. However, people opine that good work was done during that tenure. The general public in the city should play their part.
Q There were allegations levelled by those in your own party that your predecessor gave in to Mr. Rajapaksa?
I am unaware as to what former mayors have done as I am busy encountering the pressing issues of today.
Q Have you met the newly-elected President or did he summon you for a meeting? There were reports to the effect that you were reprimanded by him.
That was fake news. Anyway, why should he reprimand me? I was never summoned by him. I never met him after he assumed presidency. He seems to be having some system in handling work. I am happy working with him.
Q Is CMC prepared to work to the deadline set by the President to finish collecting garbage by 5.30 a.m.?
Certainly. It is also convenient for us to collect garbage at that time. We believe people in the city will extend their support to make this possible.
Q It was reported that you were called to appear before the Bribery Commission. Is it true?
I was not summoned by any commission. Reports claimed that I had sold a land belonging to the CMC which were utterly false! – The mayoress produced several documents including the hansard of CMC proceedings and read out the credentials while explaining her side of the story.
I received a letter on July 23, 2018 from the said company that owned the property, asking us to release a plot of land to it. I immediately sent a note to the municipal commissioner calling for a report on the matter
to which he responded saying there were two options pertaining to the issue – one was to sell the land by public auction and recover the due rates from the company and the other was to recover the dues from the company.
The commissioner informed me that it was decided to obtain details from the Municipal Treasurer over any other property vested by the council. It was decided to seek a comprehensive report from the Chief Legal Officer of CMC. It was also decided to get a clear position from the legal officer. I was informed that the Municipal Treasurer had been instructed to seal off unauthorised constructions on the said property.
I did justice on behalf of city dwellers and ratepayers
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa never reprimanded me
I was not summoned by any commission
CMC cannot function independently
What has been published about me is far from the truth
I expect the President to propose a permanent solution to the garbage disposal issue
I am oblivious to events that unfolded before I assumed office
The treasurer informed me that the CMC would not benefit from the land other than recovering due rates. Therefore, it was decided to recover the rates and release the property to the mayor.
The matter came up during the general council meeting where some opposition members said the land could not be handed back to its owners. I then suggested that the proposal be deferred. However, the opposition members wanted a division. Accordingly, a vote was taken up where all but eight members voted in favour of releasing the land. However, the CMC cannot pursue an action though a proposal is approved by the council.
The procedure is that we have to seek approval of the Provincial Council to execute it. We did that and the Western Provincial Council advised us to acquire the land. Can anyone summon me to the Bribery Commission for acting legally?
I have been hurt by false news published by media outlets. What has been published about me is far from the truth. I have fought a good fight, especially against those officers in the CMC who are corrupt. It is not easy for a woman to manage an institution like the municipal council. Nevertheless, I am happy that I did justice on behalf of city dwellers and ratepayers.