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Kandy fires expose bungling Municipality

15 January 2019 12:05 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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  • this is not the first time that the Kandy Municipality had to deal with fires
  • the file never returned to the Municipal Council
  • If the fire had occurred on the fourth floor, how could a Cosmetic shop and a dress making shop end up being gutted by fire?

 

Kandy is existing on a red hot furnace after experiencing two major fires recently. What’s a matter for concern is that there is no solution for such a calamity if it happens again in this part of the hill country. The resent fire took place at the D.S.Senanayake Library. The Kandy Municipal Council is unable to progress further on the matter because the file containing the details of the fire and damage caused has gone missing.  


This is an issue which the Mayor of kandy Kesera Sennanayke has to address.


Several views were expressed at the Kandy Muncipal Council during the weekend regarding the Yatinuwara Veediya fire and how children were saved by a father. This parent had saved the children  by throwing them down on to an arranged safe surface. In the process the mattress that was used got entangled with a high tension wire, which luckily did not snap. If this happened the story would have been different and there would have been a number of deaths.


But this is not the first time that the Kandy Municipality had to deal with fires at properties in the area. And in the end there was no investigation by the Municipality or the Police regarding the first fire.


Who is responsible?


An inquiry was however carried out regarding the first fire at the D.S.Sennnayake Library. But the file associated with the inquiry went ‘missing’. The file associated with the inquiry file reached the Municipal Council and from there onwards it was sent out so as to aid in recommended actions. However the file never returned to the Municipal Council.   Who is responsible in collecting the fine stipulated for the damage? Where is this file which contained the documents in which recommendations were penned down regarding the fine?  Some of the officers at the Municipal Council have retired and the Council is said to lose as much as  receiving Rs.500,000 in terms of fine.


It is revealed that the handing over of the D.S.Senanayake Auditorium to an individual by the administration was done without proper procedure.


There is a similar background to the ‘Yatinwara Veediya’ fire. This shopping complex had no primary fire defusing equipment in case of a fire. There was also no provision made in the back of the building for people to make their exit in case there was a fire. This building didn’t have provisions to serve as proper residential area.  But there was a family living on the fourth floor of the building.


If the fire had occurred on the fourth floor, how could a Cosmetic shop and a dress making shop end up being gutted by fire? These establishments were burnt beyond recognition. The staircase leading to the second, third and fourth floors was two feet wide. It is ceratin that the main door, on the level of Yatinuwara Veediya, was closed when the occupants of the shop left the building. 


Engineer Namal Dissnayake opined that their should be primary fire  fighting equipment, in the form of Fire Extinguishers, in every commercial building. He added that there ought to be secondary equipment in like water reels and the availability of water spraying equipment in other areas.  But he queried as to how many of these buildings had such equipment? 


Don’t meet regulations 


The traders pay their taxes, but some of these business premises don’t meet the regulations stipulated by the municipality.  The Municipality on the other hand doesn’t have the manpower to check these buildings and the high-rise buildings if they possess these equipment. Fire fighting experts say that these lapses have helped in the fires spreading and causing destruction.  He added that there are only sixteen fire fighters in the department. The equipment which is used came in the form of donations. The Council has only one fire brigade. The Municipality depends on donations when it comes to vehicles. The vehicles that the council owns need repair as no ‘new’ vehicles are donated to the  Municipality.  This is the pathetic situation in Kandy.


The Chief Fire Officer Diaz said that they have no men to check on the business establishments and find out whether they have basic fire extinguishers. This is because the employees at the fire fighting department of the Council are working on a depleted roster.  The council is not in position to handle two fires at the same time, he added.


On a day when a VVIP or VIP is present in town, the Fire and Rescue fire fighting equipment have to be stationed with them. This type of duty demands the services of at least eight personnel and further depletes the staff.


With regard to the fire at Yatinuwara Veediya, the Sri Lanka Police must step in and find out how the fire occurred and how the two shops, manned by ladies, were burnt beyond recognition. These questions have to be answered only by a joint investigation team led by the Municipality and the Police.


It’s learned that this shopping complex was once owned by a businessman and he in turn sold some of the shops in the complex while the others were rented out.  The present owner is said to be abroad, while an individual is entrusted with collecting the rent.  All these are matters that have to be looked at closely to ensure that there is no repetition.

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