Colombo Still Floods…
By Waruni Karunarathne
Despite all the development projects, certain places in the heart of Colombo still flood when it rains, people complained. Last week, some places in Thummulla and Thimbirigasyaya junctions flooded due to heavy rains causing severe traffic congestion in the area.
One of the employees at a food outlet in the Thummulla added, “Water reached the doorstep of the shop. Last year too, a couple of times the area inundated during heavy rains.” However, he added that the floodwater subsided within about 30 minutes after the rain.
A newspaper retailer at the Thimbirigasyaya junction said that the area floods during heavy rains. He pointed out that the gullies alongside the roads are too small and the water does not drift fast enough causing floods. He said, “When the rains stop the water subsides within about 30 minutes but if the rains continue it puts everything on hold and creates heavy traffic congestion in the area.”
Bus services disrupted
A passenger, Sulochana Dias, added that the main bus services from Colombo to Piliyandala, Kesbewa, Maharagama and Homagama: mainly bus routes 120, 138 and 122 as well as long distance buses towards Avissawella and Ingiriya pass through Thummulla and Thimbirigasyaya junctions. When the roads flooded, it disrupts all these bus services making it very inconvenient for passengers. He added.
“Now that most of the drainage lines and roads are built in Colombo, we thought that we would not have to face delays and difficulties on the road anymore. Even after the government spending so much money on development projects, public still faces difficulties.”
Yasasiri Anura, an employee of a petrol shed in Thimbirigasyaya junction, told The Sunday Leader that when it rains water reaches the petrol shed. According to him, during the last week rains, the water level was higher than the usual and people could not work. He said,
“The floodwater goes down in about half an hour after the rains. But if the rains continue the water level rises.” Another employee of the petrol shed added that small gullies and some other defects in the drainage system might be the main causes for floods. He added, “Floods clearly show some defects in constructions. Probably there is less capacity of the drains. Even after government spending so much money on building proper roads and drainage system, Colombo still floods.”
No alternative roads
Traffic police officer at the Thimbirigasyaya and Thummulla area added that the rains create severe traffic congestion in the area as the roads get flooded. It is difficult to divert the traffic on this road as there are no alternative roads towards Maharagama and Horana side – directing traffic towards the Galle road is not an option.
Commissioner of the Colombo Municipal Council Badrani Jayawardane told The Sunday Leader that when there is a heavy rainfall, small floods occur. She said, “Compared to the conditions of Colombo five years back, now it has improved. In the past, roads flooded even after a small rain.”
She added that the Colombo Municipal Council along with the Central Environmental Authority, World Bank and other stakeholders have taken numerous measures to improve the conditions by building proper drains and cleaning them on regular basis. According to her, last week Colombo experienced at least up to 80 mm rainfall and under such conditions small floods were natural anywhere in the world.
However, she added that they have identified certain issues in Thummulla area. Some projects to mitigate floods are already in place. According to her, the Colombo Municipal Council is already having the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project under the World Bank to address many of these problems.
“The Flood Mitigation project comes under the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project and through that we have identified 15 areas in Colombo that need attention. We have already called for tender to carry out constructions in three identified areas.” However she added that she could not tell the allocated funds for each project as there are many other institutions involved in the process.
According to her rainwater of the Thummulla area goes inward the country before it goes to the sea – therefore under this project they have planned a system to set the drains directly to the sea through an underground channel. She assured that there are already many projects under the Ministry of Defence to provide a permanent solution to many of the issues.
“We have set a hotline 110 under the Fire Brigade to call us on any flood related incidents or emergencies. We have given necessary instructions to relevant officials to be on standby ready to deal with an emergency,” she said.