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Sunday, 22 May 2011

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Use warning signs around construction sites - RDA :

More mishaps on Marine Drive



Indunil Ranaweera


Vehicles miss the construction site by inches Pix: Kavindra Perera

Jaywalkers run the risk of being run over
A vehicle parked indiscriminately on the road hampering traffic as a result

As crowds from all parts of the country poured in to experience the colourful Vesak decorations in Colombo, the Marine Drive in Kollupitiya around Schofield Place turned chaotic every now and then due to many motor vehicle accidents. The reason, the residents claim, is the stagnated construction work around the area. Three huge holes have been dug and the soil has been piled adjacent to them, occupying a side of motor space on the main road.

The work has come to a standstill and I am not surprised, says a resident. "Every time they start up something we see a large number of contractors at work, after about two or three days, they disappear and expect us to get on with our daily lives without feeling the inconvenience their neglected work causes us.

The road has been under construction for an eternity now.

It is very frustrating to be constantly bothered by these glitches. The road does even have white lines that demarcate either side, clearly this leaves room for many accidents, this new hole has been the most dangerous threat so far.

Our neighbourhood has been like the accident ward in the past few days. We heard screams of people trying to escape from their damaged vehicles and they were in a state of shock.

One of the boys was on a bike delivering pizzas when he was hit by a three wheeler.

I wonder who will pay his bills? The Police attended to some of them but most of them were taken to the hospital in one of the three wheelers parked here and I am sure the Police is not even aware of those incidents. Besides, most of those affected had come to Colombo to celebrate Vesak and they had the accidents either on their way to see the decorations or on their return and I am sure it spoiled all their plans and they returned home with displeasure", she said

I experienced over four major accidents where passengers were injured, said Harsha Kumara, a three-wheel driver parked in the area. "At night, a naked eye cannot see the pile of soil here until they are just about a metre away from it. The road does not have street lights and that increases the possibility of accidents. By the time the motorists try to steer away from the pile, it is too late. About five days back a car landed on the pile with both its left tyres above the ground. Even during broad day- light, the mirage makes the vision unclear and the glare makes it difficult to spot obstructions on the motorway especially as the temperatures are soaring these days, so the issue is not only restricted to the lack of lighting here, the solution is to complete these road works and let the roads be. People do not even have a pavement to walk on anymore", he said.

A well maintained pavement lies on the right hand side of the road but is often unused by pedestrians who misconstrue it to be a jogging path.

Our camera caught some jaywalkers coming into close contact with some of the plying vehicles and some vehicles which were parked on the main road unlawfully increasing the potential for accidents.

We contacted the Officer in Charge of Traffic of the Kollupitiya Police Station Indunil Ranaweera who said he was aware of the accidents and that his officers have been available for assistance whenever they were alerted of the accidents.

Q: How many accidents have you recorded and what do you think is causing them?

A: About four in the past few days where people were injured.

Our officers became aware of it while on patrol during the Vesak season and anyone in need of medical attention was directed to hospitals accordingly.

I think the Vesak traffic congestion caused some of them and some were caused due to reckless driving because the motorists over speed on this road and that causes a lot of accidents.

Q: The residents claim the construction work has increased the number of accidents, it is understood that you cannot stop the construction, but what safety measures have you devised?

A: It may have, the Marine Drive has to undergo all this construction work and the police do not deal with the safety aspect of motorists due to these constructions. It is done by the contractors.

They are entrusted with the responsibility of forewarning motorists and pedestrians of the construction work and the potential hazards.

They must use colour coded safety boards and signs which is both clear and indicative to all who use those routes as part of their daily routine.

Q: Have you made attempts to inform the relevant authorities of these requirements?

A: Yes, I have, but I must say it does not come under my purview. I did it because I felt the need to.

I have written to the Road Development Authority to make arrangements for warning boards around all road construction work which take place in the area and to inform their contractors of the same.

Apart from the area around Hotel Sunhill, the turn at the Station Road in Kollupitiya where the road connects to the Galle Road from Marine Drive did not have a warning sign of a bend either, we arranged to put up arrows to indicate the turn.

Further, the Liberty Plaza junction has frequent accidents too.

Under the guidance of Western Province Traffic DIG Asoka Wijetilleka, we have now pushed the main bus stop back by about 75m towards Abdul Gafoor Mawatha and this has reduced the number of accidents.

People's road safety is top priority and we will work towards achieving it to the best of our ability and power but where we are unable to do so, we will discuss with the relevant authorities to prioritise safety.

Apart from the numbers recorded, another officer claimed that nearly 20 incidents were reported between the period May 16-20. "All injured personnel have either been discharged from the hospital or is in stable condition receiving treatment at the General Hospital in Colombo and the Kalubowila Hospital", he said.

We also contacted the Engineers Representative of the Marine Drive Development Stage 3 project of the Road Development Ravi Shankar who gave an insight as to why the road has not been demarcated yet.

He admits being aware of some incidents around the area being discussed. "Sewerage construction is taking place in the area and work is due to be completed very soon.

The road is far from complete, it was constructed within a very short time so any oversights are being re-looked at now.

All this construction work is taking place to ensure that the people in the area don't face long-term inconveniences.

Once all the work is completed we will re-lay the carpets on the road and then demarcate the sides, until then I request motorists to be cautious and control their speed when driving.

The coastal stretch from Glen Aber Place to the Kollupitiya Station Road will be part of the development project.

We have closed certain parts of the road in the past but they have been disobeyed.

The road is constantly used during the day so the work gets delayed", he said.

However, he assured to put up warning signs 25 metres before the construction site on either side with the view of minimising the accidents

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