Call To End Five-Year Delay

  • Major protest at Telawala Road

By Waruni Karunarathne
Pictures by Pavithra De Mello

The residents of Telawala Road, Ratmalana went to protest last week demanding the relevant authorities to take measures to repair the road which has been in poor condition for over five years. Telawala Road was dug up under a project handled by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) to lay the sewerage line which according to many residents was abandoned by a foreign contractor.

Previously in different occasions The Sunday Leader inquired the authorities about the restoration of the roads as well as the construction of the drainage line in the area – and when contacted the relevant authorities they said everything is in place to start work. However, until the residents of Telawala Road blocked the Galle Road in protest last week, the authorities had not done much to address the issue.

As the road flooded due to heavy rain prevalent these days, the residents were unable to tolerate the poor condition of the road and the drainage system any longer. They complained that the bad state of the road and clogged drains have created lot of health hazards, vehicle maintenance issues creating lot of difficulties for the residents on daily basis.

A resident of Telawala, Yasarathne added that over five years this road has been in a very poor condition and it has created lot of menace in the day today life of the people who pass along this road, especially those who live down the road. But the relevant authorities have been neglecting their pleas.

Dug up and abandoned

Lal Ranjith, a three-wheel driver in the area, pointed out that the road was dug up to lay the sewage lines, but since the contractor abandoned the project nobody has taken any measures to repair the road even though the residents constantly made requests. He added, “Due to the poor condition of the road there are constant vehicle maintenance issues and the income has declined due to high vehicle maintenance costs.” He pointed out that during the rains the road gets flooded and when it is not raining the road is full of dust making it impossible to travel on the road.

“They are many schoolchildren walking daily to nearby schools through this road with great difficulties,” Jayantha of Telawala Road, Ratmalana added.

According to him there are many factories and several public institutes including the Light post storage of the Electricity Board down this road – therefore there are not only light vehicles but also heavy vehicles constantly travelling along this road.

Swarnamali Temple and Siriniketharama temple are also situated down Telawala Road and thousands of people use this road as an optional road to access the main road for different directions. Jayantha added that the gullies in the road make it very risky for the vehicles to run by. Even though the residents have told the Provincial Road Development Authority (PRD) about the danger, the officials of the PRD have made excuses saying that the contractor abandoned the project as the government has not paid them money and the PRD will not get involved.

However the residents complained that when President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited the area several months back, the authorities took measures to patch up the road for his visit which immediately returned to its sorry state.

Liyanarachchi of Ratmalana added that the President during his visit had given direct orders to look into the matter which authorities have not yet been able to follow. The residents have been continuously complaining about the poor condition of the road and the authorities had been giving them false promises. Thilak Weerasinghe added that there was no politics behind their protest and their only intention was to get the road repaired.

Only to win the election

Wimalaweera of Telawala Road said, “Just before the election they gave the impression to the public that they commenced the restoration of the road, starting to build the drainage line which was left unfinished. After the election they seem to have abandoned the whole thing.”

Ranil Ferdinando said that the government had been spending money on road development projects in massive scale but somehow has neglected Telawala Road. He added that several people are suffering from twisted ankles due to the bad state of the road and some three wheeler drivers had been complaining about spinal pains and asthmatic conditions. He also added that three wheel drivers as well as vehicle owners who live down the road have been spending a fortune on vehicle repairs and maintenance.

Sajeewani Liyanarachchi told The Sunday Leader, “We no longer use our own vehicle for travel purposes due to high maintenance costs. I hire a three wheeler to drop the kids to schools and for other purposes – which is costly. Especially at night we cannot use our vehicle to go down this road because of the gullies.”

Rohona Hettiarachchi added that the PRD should be mainly responsible for the delay in taking measures to repair the road. Due to the long delay people seem to suspect that there are discrepancies in certain dealings with the contractor.

Ashoka Fernando added that the clogged drains due to the bad state of the road have created many health hazards including the spreading of dengue in the area. As The Sunday Leader previously reported, according to the Public Health Inspector of the MMC, K.P.M Jayawardana, Ratmalana has already been identified as one of the high-risk areas of having another dengue epidemic.

Purview of MMC

The mayor of Moratuwa Municipal Council W. Saman Lal Fernando told The Sunday Leader that most of this area is under the Western Provincial Council. However he added that Telawala, Borupana and Angulana come under the purview of the Moratuwa Municipal Council.

He added, “In these areas the water level of the ground is high and therefore the area gets flooded. The project to lay the sewage line was introduced to benefit residents in the area. Instead of digging toilet pits the residents could use the sewage line.

Unlike in many areas, we have given the line to people for a small amount like Rs. 3000/=.” He added that after laying the pipelines the road was handed over to them for restoration. However there were little delays due to provincial council election, New Year holidays and rains.

The contractor was about to commence work on the very day the residents started the protest. He reiterated that there were certain procedures to be followed before commencing work straight away. According to him 3/5 of work is already being done when compared with other roads that came under the same project – only Telawala road and couple of other roads are left to be repaired.

While agreeing that the difficulties faced by people due to the poor road condition, he added that the residents of the area were also responsible for creating certain hazards like flooding and spreading of dengue in the area. According to him as some residents have built walls and extensions in the reservations and have blocked the drains making it impossible for the MC labourers to clean the drains. However he added that their engineers have already taken measures to address the issues.

PRD’s two months – genuine?

Mangailaka Jayawardena , the Chief Engineer of the PRD, said that the contractors had dispatched the workers to commence work on the very day residents of Telawala went into protest – but there were delays in bringing down the necessary machines. She added, “The road was handed over to us only recently – about one and half month back. After that we had been inviting tenders to find a contractor. We also started building the drainage line.”Nonetheless, she added, that the drains were built above the road level because their plan is to elevate the roads.

“But during the rains there were issues with the water flow as the drains were above the existing road level – and people had the impression that we had left the work incomplete. We will soon elevate the roads up to the same level,” she said. According to her, the former contractor should have temporary repaired the road, but as the contractor had to stop the project the workers could not do the restoration of the road.

However, she added that the NWSDB has passed them money to proceed with the restoration of the road and the money was passed only about a month or two months back. She added, “Initially we expect to level the road.

It will take about a month to carpet the road and about two months to build the drainage line.” She added that constructing the drainage line will take time as there are complications due to disorders in waste water discharge into drains by some factories and residents. Since the PRD acts under the Provincial Council Act and have limited powers, she said that the PRD could not go to courts regarding such matters.

When inquired about the payment from the Chief Engineer of the NWSDB Kumara Rathna, he told The Sunday Leader that the NWSDB has passed Rs. 75 millions to the PRD to repair three roads including Telawala Road. According to him, the payment was made in December last year. Accordingly, there has been a gap of five months after the payment is being made by the NWSDB. Let’s hope that the contractor will commence work without further delays to bring some relief to the residents of Telawala and suburbs who travel to and fro along Telawala Road throughout the day.

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