It’s with utmost distress that I write this letter to your esteemed newspaper with the hope that it will catch the attention of the rulers, who seem to treat the people of Colombo North as ‘sub-human beings’. Indeed there is no one to hear the painful stories of the distraught masses, where the poorest of the poor live and die. I have lived in this part of the city for over 60 years and things have never been so wretched
Let me only point out some glaring debacles:’
1. The road starting from Tobacco Company Junction at Kotahena and going along Aluthmawatha is being dug-up for several months by a company involved in the Water Supply Project. It seems that this company lacks competence to avoid setting off several major and minor leaks all along, of which the Water Board doesn’t care a copper cent. So, the good, drinkable water streams, down the roadway, turn the place into a mud hole and cause a great wastage which we citizens have to pay for ultimately. This tragedy has befallen several roads in Kotahena, Mutwal and Mattakkuliya. Further, deep wells have been dug along Aluthmawatha Road, St. James Street, Walls Lane, Madampitiya Road etc. and those involved in the work seem quite helpless and clueless. The areas have become veritable death traps with totally devastated road surfaces. The Mattakkuliya-Farm Road Junction is in a mighty mess with leaks everywhere. Leaks have sprung up in several well-laid roads about which the digging sub-contractors and the Water Board care the least.
2. Indeed such widespread water collection spots (clean water) make a cruel mockery of the Government’s much proclaimed Anti-Dengue Campaign.
3. Rarely do the Water Board workers (looking pathetically incompetent) try to patch up the one or two leaks after months of disrepair. They dig and then discard the remaining excavated sand and tarred blocks blissfully onto the pavement and vanish (St. Mary’s Road/Centre Road Section). Or, they dump the stuff at the entrances to the by-lanes.
Leaks have sprung up in several well-laid roads about which the digging sub-contractors and the Water Board care the least
4. Just travel along Aluthmawatha Road or several other roads in Colombo North. The ‘dug out’ sand, stone and other debris are thrown along the pavements giving rise to enormous dust clouds, seriously polluting the breathable air - making everyone suffer from eye, throat and chest problems.
5. Now comes the stunner! The Electricity Board too has been engaged in the digging done with a vengeance with scant regard for what lies underneath. The result is that, all along the roads, pipelines are broken, sending out gallons of precious water. These ‘rivers’ then flow for several days, at times for weeks, until the Water Board sends its nondescript team. It seems that the Electricity Board is readily absolved of their wanton destruction.
6. Samata Sarana is a school and a home to 400 inmates from pre-school kids to very elderly people. The disaster is hellishly apparent opposite this great institution, which was once visited by Secretary Hilary Clinton. The children and the elderly have to wade through mud holes or walk along bathed in dirt and dust. Thus, we see the numb rules treating these helpless citizens like sewage rats.
7. One positive aspect of ‘our benevolent rulers’ is the modernized roadway which was commissioned from Mattakkuliya Farm Road, along Centre Road, stretching for 1km or more. The company that carried out this mega project should be complemented. All lamp posts are ready for use. For more than a year now this road remains unlit. Is this a dark side of efficiency?
8. My plea to the rulers is this; follow the example of Patali Champika Ranawake, on behalf of the hapless people of Colombo North. Tie up your shoe laces and walk along the roads and lanes of this part of the city. You can transform the tragedy that has been highlighted, into a resounding victory within a week; as the Ranawake did. But with the shabby mind set of the rest from top to bottom the much hyped dream of a megapolis will only end up as a Necropolis (a place where dead people are buried). To translate the ideas of a megapolis to reality, technical and managerial competence backed by a sincere political is a ‘sine qua non’.
So, the good, drinkable water streams, down the roadway, turn the place into a mud hole and cause a great wastage which we citizens have to pay for
9. People witnessing these unfolding and increasing disasters in the North of the city, as never seen before post independence incidents, would like to know whether there are subject Ministers assigned to each of the failed and failing Boards, Local Bodies and Departments (including the Environmental Police) to ensure that there is - some semblance of governance leaving aside the much hyped “Good Governance”?
10. Oh! If only the attention of the Prime Minister and the President could catch a glimpse of this letter!
Pix by damith wickramasinghe