Colombo deserves better
authorities have promised to make Colombo the garden city of
Asia. It boasted of a special drive to beautify the city ahead
of the International Indian Film Awards ceremony that is
scheduled to begin on June 3.
Unfortunately the weather gods have been unkind to them.
Torrential showers that lash the city and its suburbs are
causing havoc. Most of the city roads are inundated.
Half-an-hour's rain is sufficient to inundate the roads. It's
not flood waters but storm waters that send massive volumes of
water along the roadways.
Who is responsible for this sorry state of affairs? The
responsibility could be placed on many. The lack of proper
drainage facilities is one reason for which the Municipal
authorities should be held responsible. There are also
unauthorized constructions on the way side that block the
drainage and cause flash floods. Here the Urban Development
Authority as well as the Municipal Council should share the
blame. It is a moot point why the authorities turned a blind eye
to such intrusions. Was it political or monetary clout of the
culprits or something else?
Unfinished repair works which keep mounds and mounds of
earth, stone and debris also block the free flow of rain water
to the drains. The city folk as well as visitors to the city are
also to blame for their indiscriminate behaviour in throwing
polythene and other material that block the flow and drain of
water. This points to a lack of civic consciousness on the part
of the population.
This is not something that has happened for the first time.
It is the customary situation during the rainy season. Surely,
there must be something wrong in the designing of the roads too.
The neglect of certain city roads including those in which there
is heavy traffic has aggravated the situation. This calls for
timely repair and well planned management of the roads.
It was only Saturday that we pointed to the neglect of one of
the oldest overhead bridges in the city, the one that spans
across the railway line near Lake House. One revelation that
came out of that news story is that the Colombo Municipal
authorities were unaware that it was under their care. The Road
Development Authority and the Municipal Authorities were passing
the buck disclaiming responsibility. Had it not been for an
alert news reporter nothing would have been noticed till a
We have also witnessed the sinking of motorable roads at
certain places including Galle Road and Darley Road in Colombo.
There too the Municipal authorities were nonplussed as to the
reason and the repairs took a fairly long time.
We also see a swing bridge opposite the Colombo Commercial
Company linking the James Peiris Mawatha with the islet in the
Beira in a state of utter neglect.
Colombo deserves better.
Minister Bandula Gunawardena should be commended for two
pragmatic decisions. They are to allow school authorities to
handle admissions and term tests. The Daily News has in the past
constantly reminded the authorities to do just that. After all,
it was inconceivable why the Ministry could not hand over these
two jobs to the school authorities if they could entrust the
more responsible job of teaching the students to the Principals
and the tutorial staff.
True, there were shortcomings in certain schools and
allegations of bribery and corruption were there. The remedy was
to institute a strict monitoring and surveillance system and
bring the crooks before Courts.
Bribery and corruption did not end with the transfer of
responsibility to the Ministry or Zonal administrators. In fact,
it increased several fold. The mess made by the Education
Secretary once when the entire Grade One admissions were taken
over by the Ministry is too well-known to be retold here. It
resulted in children waiting almost till the end of the first
schoolterm to get admitted to a school. Even the much boasted
computer program that was supposed to eliminate human errors in
admissions could not prevent multiple school admissions to the
same child. Despotically the Secretary did not even allow
parents to be present with the appeals when they found
injustices in the selection process.
While these decisions would ease the burden to some extent
the remedy is really long-term. It is by providing equal and up
to date facilities in all schools, particularly by improving
physical and human resources in rural and underprivileged
schools in urban and estate areas that a long-term solution
could be found when parents find no need to scramble for a place
in an elite schools for their children.