The Sunday Leader

Second Grade Treatment For Maligawatte


by Ifham Nizam

M. M. Rameez

Some 400 families living in nearly 300 housing units at the Colombo Municipal Council flats in Maligawatte for more than five decades are facing severe difficulties due to second grade treatment by the Municipal authorities.

The Sunday Leader discovered that construction in almost all nine blocks was in a dilapidated state. Most of the flats are damaged and so are the electricity wires. Garbage collection is also not carried out properly.

Fifty seven year old, M N M Naufer who has been a resident of the area for more than 45 years, says despite  a number of appeals and requests the Colombo Municipal Council authorities had failed to attend to their needs.

“Whatever problems …may be breakdown in the water tank or other …we have to attend collecting money from households…needless to say…the income levels of the tenets were marginal and most find it hard to foot the bill,” he stressed.

He said that whenever they take up the matters with the authorities they say you are paying a rent less than  Rs. 100.000, thus, you look after into your welfare. “We had often said and stressed those houses were given more than 50 years ago and the rent is estimated according to that period.”

Naufer says these houses were given to them after taking or clearing their houses. “In case we don’t pay the rent the authorities come hard on us when it comes to our welfare…some of our garbage dumping concrete pillars were in a dilapidated state, there were no measures taken to construct them.”

Manel Kodagoda, another resident says it had been the same plight for them despite having a three piece house.

Another resident, who wished to be not named, says the actions of the authorities is causing  illegal construction which leads to  more pollution.

“ There is no point in talking about us or the flats after it collapses …parents are having a  hard time in safeguarding their children  against unsafe structures and wiring etc.

M M Rameez, a resident from the I Block, says all nine blocks have similar problems. “On our part …we have dine our maximum…even constructing on the top to store water tanks…if your visit other blocks …you would witness that would collapse any moment.”

Speaking of accidents, he says despite all shortcomings and unfavourable conditions, they keep on informing about the dangers…”I believe our awareness and teachings had minimised dangers. Having said that it is high time municipal authorities take actions to do the needful,” he added.

P M Rajudeen, a spare parts businessman says that they are doing whatever they could to keep the flats clean but they lack human resources. “Most believe that it is the duty of the CMC to look into the matter,” he added.

Multi-storied housing units constructed in and around Colombo amounted to nearly 149,000 in 155 housing schemes generally described as low rise condominiums. The most significant of these state built schemes are the Maligawatte flats, Soysapura flats, Serpentine, Bolamesawatte, Veluwanarama, Siridhamma Mawatha, Ketawalamulla, Dias Place, Dissanayake watte, Forbes Lane, Gunasinghepura, Maulanawatte, Newham Square, St. James Street, Sangaraja Mawatha, Vipulasena Mawatha, Steuart Street, Sucharitha Mawatha and Bambalapitiya flats, an official said.

Government servants, low-income earners and shanty dwellers have been the beneficiaries of such state sponsored projects. However, much more needs to be done in this regard, the official points out.

These housing units generally comprised one or two bedrooms,  a sitting room, dining hall, kitchen, toilet and a common balcony at the front and at the rear. The construction of these flats were under the building regulations in operation under the then existing statutes.

Fiyaz Munsoor, says that the situations of these flats is  deteriorating fast. No attention has been paid by the authorities for the past 20 years even in other flats in the vicinity.

According to officials the maintenance of these old condominiums, the common amenities and common elements was entrusted with the Common Amenities Board (CAB). The key objective was to keep the state owned low rise apartments in a good and serviceable state by maintaining the common amenities and the common elements of such units.

The CAB carried out the task assigned to them by its clients (mainly the NHDA) without the relevant architectural plans and drawings detailing out the common amenities and common elements. Non availability of regulations under the CAB law was also one of the causes for the bad state of affairs in the maintenance of these apartments.

With the abolition of the CAB due to the lack of power vested with it to monitor the process and other reasons brought these housing schemes to a pathetic state.

The situation in the government flats is getting worse as many people add unauthorised structures and expand their houses ignoring the sewerage lines, water lines and various other common amenities servicing the entire scheme.

“We are not in a position to clean up drains and even sewer lines when they get blocked due to these unauthorised structures as they have been constructed covering all the drainage lines, sewerage      lines,” a resident said.

On the other hand people used to rent out rooms keeping only one room and the kitchen for the use of the owner, creating yet another problem.

“The owners of the house have facilities to put their garbage out but those who are living in rented rooms do not have a place to dump their garbage and they throw the garbage out of their windows to the streets making the entire area a garbage dumping site,” he said.

An official said that the legal definition is that a property comprising land with a building or buildings of more than one story and having more than one independent unit of residential or non- residential accommodation is referred as a condominium property

The Condominium Management  Authority’s  main objective is to control, manage, maintain,  administer the condominium parcels, the common elements and the common amenities of a condominium complex.

“We need to ensure that the common elements and the common amenities are properly maintained in good order to ensure that periodical maintenance is being carried out to make such  properties are maintained in a state of good repair. The CMA advises the Management Corporations to carry out such activities through a management agent or directly by the Management Corporation.

The CMA advices the Management Corporations to insure the Condominium Complex against risk of fire, civil unrest, riots etc. Also there must be the removal of unauthorised constructions and to ensure that the Management Corporations properly function. The CMA is also responsible to ensure the key services like water, sewerage, drainage, electricity, garbage disposal are being properly attended to by the Management Corporations,” a senior official said.

He that: “We see a large number of old apartments in an around Colombo which may be 50, 60 years old. What is the role of the CMA in safe guarding occupants of such apartments which have deteriorated and are on the  verge of collapse?”



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