Plus - Letter to the Editor

Why are these unauthorised structures still standing?

As Colombo residents, we are happy and relieved that the authorities have finally got down to the job of removing all unauthorised structures in the city.

Within days of receiving their orders, the state demolition squads went into action, with the Police there to support them. However, many unauthorised structures still remain. We wonder why.

Here is a list of such unauthorised structures:– In front of the Slave Island Police station is a large pavement business. A rope encloses the structure, and a statue of the Buddha has been built there.

– At the top of Malalasekera Mawatha (formerly known as Longden Place), there are two large snack bars. Some weeks back, the police ordered other vendors operating on this stretch of road to pack up and leave. But the snack bars, which are built on the pavement, continue to operate.

– In Bambalapitiya, at the Galle Road-Bauddhaloka Road junction, vendors have blocked the Trelawney Place entrance to the Galle Road.Earlier, vehicles could use this lane to get on to the Galle Road.

– At the same spot, at the Bambalapitiya junction, next to the milk bar, fruit vendors have set up stalls on government land.

– On H. K. Dharmadasa Mawatha, in Slave Island, a row of shops near the Nawaloka Hospital was demolished about five years ago on a court order. Now several unauthorised shops have been put up, with the blessings of a former mayor who openly challenged former Minister Mangala Samaraweera who, at the time, was the minister in charge of the Urban Development Authority (UDA).

– In the Pettah, outside the Central Bus Station, a number of small shops have extended their businesses on to the pavement.

– On R. A. de Mel Mawatha, at the St. Peter’s College end, the Muslim Ladies’ College has still not pulled down certain structures for which the school received compensation for road widening. Members of the public, including students, are forced to step onto the main road where these structures abut on the pavement.

– In the Fort, at the Sri Lanka Telecommunications office end of Olcott Mawatha, there are several unauthorised shops on the pavement. Permission was given for vendors and shop owners to put up stalls only as far as the end of the Chalmer’s Warehouse.

– The bus shelters on the Galle Road-Horana route, outside Manning Market, have been completely taken over by underworld elements who have built shops there. As a result, commuters are forced to stand in the sun and the rain as they wait for their buses. This is one of the oldest bus shelters in Colombo, dating back to the 1900s. All that remains of the old set-up is the SLCTB time-keepers’ shed, which occupies a space of about 2 square metres.

Let us hope that Inspector General of Police (IGP), the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), and the Urban Development Authority (UDA) will get together and take immediate action – before the Ministry of Defence decides to step in.

Tilak Fernando, Colombo 6

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