Presidential advisor slams CMC for Colombo floods

Presidential advisor Dr. Sunimal Fernando and angry residents in Horton Place alleged the hasty 100-day road construction programme undertaken by the Colombo Municipality was responsible for aggravating the flood situation in Colombo city.

They claimed the municipal authorities had made changes to the British-built road system and introduced solutions of their own without consulting residents who had lived in the area for decades.
Residents alleged the Horton Place-Wijerama Road junction where the road design was changed by municipal authorities last year without consulting residents was among the worst affected areas.

Dr. Fernando in front of his house on Thursday. Pic by Gemunu Wellage

Dr. Fernando whose house was also affected due to the changes, expressed shock and disappointment at the manner the Colombo municipality had carried out road construction work.

“I have been a resident in the area since 1945 and our house was flooded only on two occasions prior to changes being made in 2009.

A visibly angry Dr. Fernando told the Sunday Times since the road system was changed, his house had been flooded four times.

“Under the British system the middle of the road at the cross junction was low and the water used to flow into it. The system was that water flowed into the middle and gradually went down. But the Municipal engineers decided to raise the middle of the road and the water now flows into the adjoining houses,” Dr. Fernando said.

He said the issue had been taken up with Municipal Commissioner Omar Kamil since the houses started going under water from November 2009, but no remedial action had been taken. “They are following a text book system of solutions and trying to please politicians, without consulting residents who have lived here for decades.”

Dr. Fernando was not the only resident complaining, Mallika Hemachandra owner of the well known jewellery, firm said another reason for the continuous flooding was that the Municipality had not removed unauthorized coverings put over drains and was therefore unable to the clear the drains.
“Whenever these drains overflow, the dirty flood water flows into our residences,” she said.

Another resident said many people were considering whether they should continue living close to the junction as it went uder water repeatedly. Meanwhile, soon after the floods hit the area, Mr. Kamil had given a directive for municipal vehicles to be sent to drain the water out.

However, Dr. Fernando reacting to the move said, “That’s not what we need. You can just imagine the plight of the ordinary citizen who has no influence to call for assistance .” He said the Municipality had repeatedly assured remedial steps would be taken, but little or nothing had happened.

But, Mr. Kamil defended the construction changes saying they were done to prevent accidents at the Horton Place- Wijerama junction. “When the construction was done there were extra gullies and drains put up to ensure that the rain water flows out. Unfortunately on some days the flow at the down stream which goes across Bauddhaloka Mawatha into the canals and the sea is slow. This is because the tidal waves are high at sea and the water flows back,” he said.

He said as a temporary measure a hump had been put up while the drains which were covered would be opened.

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