ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 11 , 2007
Vol. 41 - No 41

Rumble over rubble

The once scenic Marine Drive at Kollupitiya has now become a dumping ground. Ayesha R. Rafiq reports on the hazards faced by residents mainly due to official inaction

For the seaside residents of Kollupitiya, the last five months have been a nightmare. The families who live at the end of the seaside lanes have for decades enjoyed an unhindered view of the seascape and the salubrious breezes and calm and privacy that comes along with it. But the commencement of the Marine Drive project has not only put an end to their idyll but also brought with it countless hardships.

Mountain of debris blocking the picturesque view of the ocean

The biggest problem the residents are facing is the mountain of rubble that has been indiscriminately dumped around their homes. Huge piles of brick and mortar lie intermingled with broken bottles, garbage and all kinds of refuse. One resident who did not wish to be named complained that the rubble was not just a major inconvenience but a serious health hazard too. “Things like broken glass, nails and small pieces of concrete tend to get spread around the road very easily. Several people have tripped and hurt themselves on it,” she said.

Another problem is that construction sites around the area have taken to conveniently dumping their rubble on the roadside too, instead of seeing that it is removed from the building site.

A long standing resident of the area Mr. R. Pathmanathan said that up until the rubble began to pile up they never had a problem with clogged drains. But now when it rains, sand and garbage clog up their drains and sewers and within minutes sewage water fills up in the roads. “This not only leaves a terrible stench but the water takes a very long time to drain away,” he said.

Apart from the obvious inconveniences however, this mountain of rubble has also brought along with it more disturbing problems.
“The steel rods used to reinforce buildings are very valuable to the second hand market. When the buildings are broken all the debris along with these steel rods, door knobs, door and window frames and so on are just left here. When the buildings were first broken, drug addicts descended here and began to salvage these items. Now they are staying here, roaming around in the nights and this is a big worry for us,” said W. Suranga.

A displeased resident

Yet another resident who didn't want to be identified pointed out a tiny shack between some rubble and sparse bushes adjoining the railway tracks. “This is a brothel. When the drug addicts started coming, this brothel came up here. The debris deters people from walking around here, so the brothel has enough privacy. There is activity around here at all times of day. Our children are exposed to this and we just don't feel safe anymore,” he lamented.

The residents all say that numerous complaints to the Road Development Authority (RDA) have yielded no results.

The RDA’s Director of Lands and Resettlement R.H. Karunaratne acknowledged that they had received several complaints. “When we first pulled down the buildings we gave a contract to a private party to clear away the rubble. When he commenced work however, he began to have problems with the police as he was using several lorries, and he stopped work,” Mr. Karunaratne said.

Several other contractors have also faced the same problems, so now the RDA will have to take a decision to use its own vehicles to clear away the debris, he said, while promising quick relief for the beleaguered residents.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.