The Business Time’s stories two weeks ago in the specialised “Real Estate section’ has stirred up a hornets’ nest with many people writing in to express their anger, dissatisfaction on the related issues and gratitude on providing a platform to discuss them. One such letter was on the complex of nearly 60-80 perches in extent [...]

Business Times

Abdul Cafoor Mawatha residents angry


The Business Time’s stories two weeks ago in the specialised “Real Estate section’ has stirred up a hornets’ nest with many people writing in to express their anger, dissatisfaction on the related issues and gratitude on providing a platform to discuss them.

One such letter was on the complex of nearly 60-80 perches in extent to house 44 apartments and facilities at No. 67/1 Abdul Caffoor Mawatha. It’s a luxury apartment complex called the Cornwall that is being built shortly.

The residents in January 2016 received a letter from Janaka Weeratunga, Project Director, Complete Investments (Pvt) Ltd, bearing local address 60A, Galle Face Terrace, Colombo 03 and 75, Milford Road, Reading RG 18LG, UK, saying that a complex was being built.

“At the outset, the demolition of the existing two houses, where this complex is to be built on, was so badly handled that we were covered in dust and debris and had to complain repeatedly and have altercations with the contractor,” a resident told the Business Times.

In March 2016, a Neighborhood Committee of concerned residents met to discuss the situation and letters were sent to the relevant authorities about their concerns and registered letters dispatched to the developer but were then returned to them. Finally the developer sent a copy of the permit he obtained from the municipality.

They tried to meet Andre Sivarasa, the principal developer representing a firm registered in the UK, to discuss our concerns, with no success. When the Business Times contacted Mr. Weeratunga he acknowledged that residents are being disturbed by the construction but he has written to all the residents who are impacted saying that all their issues will be rectified after the ground work. “It’s a 15 – 20 foot hole in the basement. It’ll be another month when all is completed and then I promised that their issues will be addressed,” he added.

The resident said that piling was carried out by Access Group and they are still working, during which the residents were asked to allow (the developer’s insurers – a team of unknown men) – to inspect the inside and outside of the residents’ home, room to room, taking photographs and invading their privacy. He said that prior to the above, they were sent a circular, captioned ‘Crack Survey to be conducted January 2016′ and given the contact name and telephone number of their representative, a pleasant but ineffective individual. “In order to get a complaint addressed we have to phone him at least six times.” He said that this survey was carried out on two occasions – as the initial assessment was flawed apparently.

“Neighbouring homes were subject to the same. If we had refused, and in the event of damage, there would be no redress for us,” another resident said.

Mr. Weeratunga said that these were done before the piling contract was done and after the basement contract was done in a bid to assess the damages to the houses. “One annex has collapsed and we’re building it right now,” he said adding that he can share all related documentation that he has had with the residents with any party.

The Business Times learnt that owing to the piling the walls of two adjoining houses collapsed – one off Abdul Caffoor Mawatha and one off Chelsea Gardens, adjoining this development on two sides. The foreigner renting the house off Chelsea Gardens left having just signed a contract and taken possession of the premises, and the owners instigated legal action for loss of revenue and claim that Compete Investments are uncooperative. “The noise is unbearable and goes on day after day and late into the night – now for over a year,” the second resident added.

Another dwelling adjoining this new development, called ‘The Cornwall’ and advertised in West Asia and recently advertised as being completely sold out barring two apartments, suffered structural damage and restricted road access, the insurers asked for photographic evidence, the owners who live in Australia were contacted and unknown people entered private residences, he added.

“The developers also tried to gain additional access into their premises from a private road off T.G. Jayewardene Mawatha, but when they started demolishing the wall the residents protested and they had to brick it up again. However, they have and are pumping huge quantities of their waste water into a storm water drain running along this private road by making an opening at ground level into the drain through their rear wall.”

The first resident visibly upset said that the inconvenience to existing residents, disruption to peaceful living, noise and dust/mud pollution, work that goes on until late hours, sometimes ‘all’ night. “Strangely the Police don’t respond to our desperate calls at 2 a.m. and 4 am and with powerful search lights and concrete mixers thundering throughout the night and men shouting instructions to each other, it is impossible to sleep.” Mr.Weeratunga in response said that he has written to all the residents and is in touch with them on many matters relating to the construction. “I can’t understand why they didn’t contact me.”

The road surface of Abdul Caffoor Mawatha is damaged, subsidence in sections and vehicles suffer. There is even a galvanised iron water pipe line laid across the road for the use of the project diagonally across the road and cars go through more damage, the first resident noted. Mr. Weeratunga said that he will inspect this matter as he wasn’t aware of this.

“Despite construction regulations work with heavy machinery parked openly on a public road, with no protective cover either for the builders or residents, operates brazenly day after day and underground excavation to possibly 30 feet or more continues unabated. When the residents protest the contractors are surly and occasionally abusive. Their workers litter the road, throw lunch packets and arrack bottles forcing us to complain,” a third resident said, adding that in Colombo land is in short supply but these developments are taking place with no concern for established residents, inconvenience, noise, dust and mud pollution, and is a disturbance to the sick and elderly. Mr. Weeratunga said that he isn’t insensitive to the said issues and will bring redress to all residents as soon as the piling is done.

At the end of it all the residents are left with dwellings that are almost inhabitable owing to lack of ventilation and light – all in the name of progress for a few greedy individuals, he said. The unhappy residents around this apartment complex are wondering if the state authorities don’t care about their citizens.

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