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Government Gazette

Repairs and refurbishment after 40 years:

New lease of life for occupants of Govt flats

Government housing schemes along Serpentine Road, Borella, Soyzapura in Moratuwa and Maligawatte in Colombo 10 were repaired after 40 years at a cost of over Rs. 339 million. The occupants in these flats said that they received a new lease of life with these repairs and refurbishment of their houses.

A section of the Maligawatta Housing Scheme after the facelift

The Sunday Observer interviewed Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities Minister Wimal Weerawansa and some occupants of the housing schemes in this regard.

Excerpts of the interviews: Minister Wimal Weerawansa

Q: You have taken a bold decision to repair the dilapidated houses in the city's housing schemes constructed by the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA). All Ministers and officers who had been responsible for the housing sector did not concentrate on this subject which costs millions of rupees. How did you make the decision to go ahead with this project?

A: After I assumed duties in my Ministry, I visited many housing schemes and held special mobile services to give a patient hearing to the tenants and other settlers.

One of their main grievances was the long overdue repairs at the housing schemes especially related to water and sewerage. Some units at the Soyzapura Housing Scheme, Moratuwa were on the verge of collapse.

Some condominium management committees at those housing schemes could not effect repairs due to lack of funds.

I took up this matter with the Cabinet which approved the project proposal, "Janasevena Nagamu Purawara" to attend to repairs at the city's housing schemes.

Progress of project

Q: What progress have you made in this project?

Minister Wimal Weerawansa inspects the renovated Serpentine Road Housing Scheme

A: The repairs and colour-washing at the Serpentine Housing Scheme, Borella have been completed. Over Rs. 25 million was spent on them.

The Common Amenities Board has been instructed to look into the future needs of these housing schemes.

The Soyzapura Flats were constructed in 1969. Repairs to that scheme were carried out after 42 years as some houses were badly damaged. We spent over Rs. 147 million on repairs and over 12,000 people benefited from the project.

The Maligawatta Housing Scheme, built in 1973, had suffered a similar fate. Repairs were undertaken by the Sri Lanka State Engineering Corporation (SLSEC) at a cost of Rs. 167 million.

Q: Most of the occupants who benefited from these repairs say that they received a new lease of life with the refurbishment. What is your view?

A: Exactly. That was what I expected. Living in a dilapidated abode brings miserable feelings and unhappiness to the occupants. The government has a responsibility to make the people happy.

Q: You have set a target of one million houses within five years. How far has this project progressed?

A: In 2011 over 35,000 houses were built and 50,000 houses will be completed this year. All financial institutions and commercial banks helped achieve our housing targets.

A number of low interest housing loans was introduced. Those in the low income group can obtain a housing loan under the Visiri Naya scheme.

The other schemes to help people are Janasevena middle class housing loans, Janasevena Sasunata Sevena, Janasevena Upahara and Janasevena Kepakaru Nivasa. The NHDA coordinates all activities related to housing construction in the island.

Maintenance

Q: There should be a mechanism to continuously maintain housing schemes after repairs are effected. What is your plan?

A: Most of the housing schemes have condominium management committees established by the occupants. Our Ministry, especially the Condominium Authority carries out maintenance work and other related matters at these housing schemes.

Moratuwa Soyzapura Housing Scheme after the renovations

W.D. Sarathsena Sudath Hemantha Hettiarachchi

W.D. Sarathsena from the Maligawatta Housing Scheme:

I have lived here for the past 37 years. No repairs were effected until the present Housing Minister Wimal Weerawansa took charge. This housing scheme was neglected and most of the houses were in a poor state. There were 'Bo' plants which had taken root on the walls and many water leakages. President Mahinda Rajapaksa had allocated Rs.1,600 million to renovate housing schemes in the city.

It has now been transformed into a beautiful housing scheme. Sri Lanka needs ministers of the calibre of Wimal Weerawansa who could take decisions and implement them for the people's benefit.

Sudath Hemantha Hettiarachchi from the Maligawatta Housing Scheme:

I have been here for over 35 years. This scheme was a hellhole due to the overflow of sewerage, until the repairs were done. People should realise that the Government spends public money on renovations. We should look after these houses.

 

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