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Metro Colombo Urban Development project:

City streets turn people-friendly

The roads network of a city is necessarily reflect the reputation of that city as it is one factor affecting the people visiting the city whether they are locals or foreigners. If the city road network is in good conditions that will positively be a factor to encourage the people to walk around the city and stay there for longer period than they expected to stay.

Even for a city dweller or an office worker using vehicles to travel short distance to attend their daily need will be encouraged to walk on the city streets if they feel that city streets are more safer for them to walk rather than using a motor vehicles for their short distance journeys.

Therefore, more improved city road network with the unhindered walk-ability will definitely contribute towards encouraging people to walk on the city streets rather than using vehicles thus contributing to the improved health condition and also to minimize environmental pollution.

The walk-ability improvement project under the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project implemented by the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development with the funds made available from the World Bank is also aiming to make city streets more conducive for both motorists and the pedestrians.

According to Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the prime mover behind urban development projects in the country, the facilitation of the pedestrians should also be given priority as majority of the people visiting the Colombo city are not using motor vehicles.

"Therefore, the pavements and walkways should also be improved parallel to the improvement of the roads in the city as it will facilitate the pedestrians to reach their destinations without facing any obstacles", he said commenting on the Colombo city development project at a function held at the Colombo Town Hall premises.

"The city beautification is an added advantage form the project we implement to streamline and to improve the required infrastructure facilities to the city dwellers", he said.

Therefore, the walk-ability improvement project that is being underway in Union Place, Slave Island areas in the city becomes a major attaction to the Colombo city very soon.

According to Rohan Seneviratne the Project Manager of the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project and also an Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, under the walk-ability improvement package of the MCUDP 12 kilometres of the city road network will be developed. The Colombo Municipal Council will be the implementing agency of the walk-ability improvement project. Colombo Municipal Council is providing the facility of a road network for the 642,000 citizens and daily commuters of 400,000 per day and it is the duty of the CMC to rehabilitate and maintain the total of 480 kilo meters of road network in Colombo city.

"The objective of improving walk ability is to provide more convenient and clean walkways for pedestrians while improving the image of the city", Rohan Seneviratne said.

The roads in the city have been developed by not providing adequate facilities to the pedestrians. But, modern urban development focuses towards providing more facilities for the pedestrians. And providing additional spaces for vehicle parking within the city.

"Therefore, this project will be a blessing to make the city more attractive and pedestrian friendly", he said.

According to Engineer Devika Abeysuriya, Deputy Project Manager, Walk -ability Improvement Project, the project is now underway in three packages and all the three packages are now in the implementation stage.

The project components includes the re-construction of foot walks, providing additional parking bays, introduction of traffic signals (in selected roads), Provide street lighting (as required), improvement of storm water disposal system, keep provision for future utility services, landscaping and beautification, provision of street furniture and the asphalt surfacing, she said.

Accordingly 1185 metres of the Vauxhall Street (1,185 m) will be developed with foot walks landscaping and street lighting, ducting and asphalt overlaying while doing the asphalt overalying in the, Kew Road, Vauxhall lane, Police Lane, Morgan Road, Dawson Road, Kew Points road, Bahiathulla Lane and Barracks Lane that are connected to Vauxhall street and other major roads in the city.

Accordingly under package I of the project total of 2.605 kilometres of city roads which have not been rehabilitated for long time will be developed.

"We are doing full development of the Vauxhall Street. We are doing only the asphalt overlaying of other roads because we have no space to improve them further. But we have provided some walkability facilities since lot of people are living there in this part of the city", Engineer Devika said.

Under the package II of the walk-ability improvement project Sir Chitthampalam A Gardiner Mawatha, a section of the Lotus Road in Fort, M.M. Marker Mawatha, Justice Akbar Mawatha and Rifle Street will be developed.

"All the roads comes under the package II will be developed with foot walks, landscaping, street lighting, ducting. The asphalt overlaying of Sir Chitthampalam A Gardiner Mawatha and Lotus Road will be done from the funds made available from the CMC. Accordingly 1.965 kilometres of road length will be developed under this package.

The package III of the walkability improvement project will cover 3 kilo meters of road of the Kumaran Rathnam Road, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva Mawatha in Union Place, T.B. Jayah Mawatha.

"The construction of footwalks , landscaping , street lighting will be done in all three roads. The asphalt overlaying of these three roads will be done using the funds from the Colombo Municipal Council", she said. The CMC is having a component on this and asphalt overlaying is done with the CMC funding but the entire project comes under the walk ability improvement project.

One important feature of this project is that the ducts are being installed along all the roads which are being developed under this project as these roads are subjected to excavations for service lines by various agencies even immediately after the completion of construction.

"We have informed all the service providers like Water Supply and Drainage Board, Ceylon Electricity Board, Sri Lanka Telecom and other utility agencies that we will not allow them for any excavations for five years after the completion of this project", she said.

"Therefore, utility agencies like CEB and Telecom also worked with us. We asked them to do the augmentation work and we worked for them free of charge by doing the excavation part for them since they find it difficult to find funds. Usually we charge high fee for excavation. But this time we have not charge any fee and we did it for them. Therefore, restoration of water pipes was also done parallel to the project along with the Water Board and the CEB and Sri Lanka Telecom did their own service lines along with the project", she said.

For the usage of the private telecommunication providers, ducts were laid after having discussion with the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. Therefore the private telecommunication service providers can make use of those ducts to lay their cable lines when necessary after paying a fee for the CMC.

"For this project we have selected roads which have not been developed for long time. In other parts of the city roads have been developed recently and therefore we have selected the roads in the Slave Island area and Uinon Place for this project", she said.

Explaining the difficulties the contractors had to face, she said when excavating the roads to lay new service lines they come across so many cable lines with no owners. "Therefore we had to face many difficulties in replacing them and shifting them", she said.

"Under this project contractors have not been allowed to work during night according to the social and environmental conditions of the World Bank. We don't allow them to work during the whole day. There are some places where we cannot work during day time. Therefore under special permission we are working in the night", she said.

Adding further details she said that certain roundabouts such as Ceramic Junction connecting the Lotus Road and Lotus Road and the D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha, and Lake House roundabout and Slave Island round about will also be developed to suit the present traffic flow along these roads.

"We have redesigned Lake House roundabout to suit the present day requirement since they have been designed long time ago considering the traffic during those period" she said.

"To do the landscaping along the roads we have designated plants and trees for each and every road. There are some trees along these roads but we are not removing them. We will introduce new trees. In Union Place we introduced local plans such as Dam Petham or Koboleela", she said.

Since there are no consultants for the project, the engineers and the architects of the Colombo Municipal Council contributed doing all required architectural and engineering designs and the contract documents and contract specifications were done by the CMC engineers. "The completion of the project will be beneficial for pedestrians, motorists, residents in the city, people who need leisure and exercise, cleaning crews, utility agencies and visitors. Since the parking facilities are also improved, it will be helpful to reduce haphazard parking and thus reduce traffic congestions", she said.

As the Galle road from Galdari Junction to the Kollupitiya and the entire Duplication road and the Galle road upto Colombo city limits in Wellawatte and the roads around the Town Hall square and the Vihara Maha Devi park are also expected to be improved to high standards with disable access, decent paving considering architectural features, provision of modern street furniture and landscaping the improvements of these roads will add more beauty to the city. According to Rohan Seneviratne, the Colombo Municipal Council their engineers their planners are all working for the projects.

"Most of the engineering designs, specifications, preparation of tender books, and then evaluation awarding of contracts and things like that comes under this project are being done by the implementing agencies since there is no consultants to the project. By doing so we have been able to save at least 10 per cent of the funds", he said.

"For each and every project under the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project we must do a thorough social safeguard process and a environmental safeguard process. So we have already decide social safeguard framework and environmental safeguard framework for each and every project. Based on the framework we have developed and we are implementing all these projects", he said.

"He said they are very strict about the quality of the material used by the contractors. We are closely supervising and checking each and every sample material they use for these projects. We have assigned our teams to supervise and approve them. Samples are tested in our labs to see the samples are right. Specially the street lamps their lamps fittings curbs, curbing material, interlocks interlocking materials road surface all of them are tested by our engineers assigned to those tasks", he said.

"Therefore we are expecting to complete the projects under the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project with high quality and standards", he said.

 

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