Citizens group will advise on Colombo’s needs

By Nadia Fazlulhaq

A “city watch’’ group comprising volunteer citizens with expertise and experience in various fields will advise the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), said the newly appointed Special Commissioner to the CMC, Omar Kamil.

Members of the group, which will include retired public officers, will advise on such matters affecting the community as public health, town planning and administration. Mr. Kamil said the group will get together for the first time early next month.

“Weak leadership over the past few years resulted in little development in the city and the near collapse of the Colombo Municipal Council,” said Mr. Kamil, a former Mayor of Colombo. Meanwhile, the CMC has launched a 30-day programme involving more than 500 workers to improve conditions in the city. They will resurface roads, improve drainage, clear blocked drains, prune trees in public spaces, and check on street lighting.

Mr. Kamil said the city’s traffic control systems will be upgraded. “Traffic lights need to be synchronized to reduce traffic jams,” he said. “During the busy hours traffic on the main roads can be held up for up to 45 minutes to one hour.”

Mr. Kamil said the CMC had decided to review the traffic flow system after receiving many complaints from the public over inconveniences arising from the one-way traffic flow system. A 25-year agreement between the CMC and a private contractor for the disposal of garbage has been stymied by legal issues.

Mr. Kamil said the contract was signed during his tenure as mayor of the city. He said the garbage crisis would not have arisen if the CMC had been better managed. In the coming weeks garbage will be collected at about six in the morning. If this does not happen, Colombo residents can lodge a complaint with a senior CMC officer and the matter will attended to on the same day, according to the Municipal Commissioner.

“We hope to resume our public days, when members of the public can meet municipal commissioners, deputy commissioners, heads of departments and top management officers without having to make an appointment. The idea is to address problems and find a solution the same day,” he said.

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