Rajagiriya Flyover A Lethal Hazard says Janaka Ranawaka
By Panchamee Hewavissenti
A potentially lethal hazard was detected in the flyover which is currently being built at Welikada, Rajagiriya (on the 177 bus route).
The general public allege that there is a misalignment of 8 inches between the Y-shaped pylon and the upper frame of the flyover.
The authorities hope that this flyover will provide a permanent solution for the traffic congestion on Parliament Road. The Government of Spain has sponsored this project which costs Rs 868 million.
The former Mayor of the Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte Municipal Council and the present Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) organizer for Kotte, Janaka Ranawaka stated that the quality of the flyover is below par and warned that due to this reason, a huge calamity could take place once the general public start using it. He added that the contractors have done everything possible to hide the misalignment from the eyes of the public by welding two circular metal plates on the two Y-shaped pillars. "Welding metal plates does not rectify the issue. After the media highlighted this issue, passers-by are daily seen taking a look at this misalignment." Janaka Ranawaka also extended an invitation to journalists at Ceylon Today to accompany him to the construction site. Ceylon Today has reported about this misalignment on several occasions and has made the public aware of the potential hazard.
Excerpts of the Interview:
? What is the most appropriate solution that can be used to rectify the misalignment of the pylon?
A: The public can be rest assured of their safety if a new frame is fixed. Yet, this is costly and time consuming.
We suggested that a pylon should be fitted on the side to support the frame. By fixing a pylon, a potential catastrophe can be averted. This is a cost-effective solution.
? Do you think the RDA will rectify this misalignment by fixing an additional pylon to the frame of the bridge?
A: I do not think so. They have no intention to fix a pylon. The officials at the RDA do not want to admit that they have made a serious blunder and are trying to find a slipshod solution. A large amount of cash is required to correct the misalignment. It is highly unlikely that they would allocate such a huge amount of cash to rectify this issue. The contractors want to line their pockets with cash. They don't give two hoots about the safety of the general public. In order to cover things up, they will look for a cheap solution.
This might cause a catastrophe in the future. If the Chairman of the RDA instructs the contractor to fix this issue, the contractor will be compelled to fix it. The main issue here is that the Chairman of the RDA is refusing to accept the truth even when it is staring him in the face. Engineers have tried to warn him about the implications to no avail.
? Does this misalignment pose a threat to the passers-by at present?
A: I don't think it poses any threat prior to being completed, but once a large number of vehicles start using it, a calamity could take place.
? The Chairman of the RDA, Engineer Nihal Sooriyarachchi denies the allegation that the flyover may be a lethal hazard as it is still under construction. Don't you think it is too early to spot an issue?
A: All other Y-shaped pillars are fitted in an appropriate manner, but only one pillar is misaligned. There is an apparent misalignment of 8 inches. We wonder how this could have happened if they had taken proper measures when construction was in progress. We can assume that something has gone wrong somewhere and that will affect the entire flyover.
The place where the misalignment has occurred is going to be heavily congested once the flyover is complete. So, if any mishap occurs then, will the statement of apology issued by the Chairman of the RDA be of any avail?
The Chairman of the RDA is in denial, but they seem to be attempting to fix the issue by welding two plates. Passers-by can see that the welding work is being done on the pillars where the misalignment occurred.
The Chairman of the RDA cannot get away by saying that the project is not over yet. It is clearly visible that they are going to cover up the blunder by welding two metal plates. That is their solution, but they don't seem to care about the catastrophe that is about to occur. Although we have pointed out the blunder, the RDA does not seem to be taking any measures to address this issue in an appropriate manner.
? Who is responsible for this blunder?
A: In my opinion, the Chairman of the RDA is at fault and he needs to accept full responsibility. The contractor follows the instructions of the Chairman of the RDA.
The contractor has failed in his duty and the Chairman of the RDA has failed to oversee the project. Any contractor can complete a project in a reckless manner and hand it over, but the RDA needs to make sure that everything is up to par. On the contrary, the Chairman of the RDA is trying to shield the contractor and is denying that any blunder took place. One wonders why he is shielding this contractor in this manner instead of doing the job that he was hired to do.
? Do you have any idea about the profile of the contractor who made the blunder?
A: Yes. I am well aware of the profile of the contractor.
? As the Co-Chairman of the Regional Development Committee of Kotte, have you made the higher authorities aware of this hazard?
A: I informed the Chairman of the RDA in writing, but did not receive any response. I have already informed the President about this in writing. I also attempted to contact Dr. Harsha de Silva to inform him about the blunder to no avail.
? Is it your opinion that the flyover will sort out the traffic congestion in Rajagiriya?
A: Although the traffic congestion can be reduced, it cannot be eliminated. It could have been eliminated if 50 metres from either side of the flyover was extended.
? So, if you have a sound plan to mitigate the traffic congestion to a larger extent, why haven't you informed the authorities about this?
A: As the Co-Chairman of the Kotte Development Committee and the Chief Organizer of the SLFP in Kotte, I have forwarded my suggestions. I wonder why the authorities are not lending an ear to our views.
? Was the Kotte Municipal Council provided with compensation for the portions of land (the Children's Park for example) that it lost?
? The flyover was supposed to be completed by the end of 2018. However, the authorities have decided to complete the flyover one year in advance. What is the reason?
A: The parties involved in the project need to get their profits as early as possible. That is why they have speeded up the construction work. These types of blunders occur when you attempt to do things in a hurry.
It is good if a project can be completed ahead of schedule, but they must not compromise on the quality. The general public require a high quality and safe flyover.
? It is alleged that the Chairman of the RDA has brokered a deal to build a road to a private property located in close proximity to the said flyover. Have the authorities taken any action about this?
A: I have informed the authorities about this in writing. I am going to present a letter to the President.
The Chairman of the RDA is involved in the construction of a road on a government land. This property is located adjacent to the Police Station in Welikada and behind the Divisional Secretariat building of Sri Jayawardenepura. This property where the road is being built belongs to the Municipal Council of Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.
Neither the Kotte Municipal Council nor the Chief Minister of the Western Province have granted permission to build a road. The land that belongs to the Kotte Municipal Council is about 151.3 perches and it has apparently lost about 8 perches of land due to the alleged construction of a private road.
A perch of land is worth Rs 5 million and the Kotte Municipal Council has lost approximately Rs 40 million as a result of this. The engineer at the Kotte Municipal Council informed me in writing that the authorities at the Municipal Council were neither aware of the construction of the road nor have they granted permission for this. He further stated in the letter that the Chairman of the RDA has forwarded a letter to the Chief Minister of the Western Province, but the Chief Minister had also not granted permission.
It should be said that this road has been built after the commencement of the flyover project and one wonders who has vested him with the authority to construct a road by circumventing the rules and regulations.
? How do you view the engagement of government servants in Local Government Institutions, in the absence of the politicians, as the institutions are dissolved and are under the governance of bureaucracy?
A: The government servants who are employed in all the Local Government Institutions have no feelings for the country. They are an inefficient set of officials. Those who are elected by the people to the Local Government Institutions take special interest in solving the matters pertaining to the public. Government officials are unproductive, inefficient, and ineffective. Government officials have clearly shown their incompetence in the absence of the elected members.
A majority of those who are employed in the local government institutions do not do any work, but only take home their salaries. Had the local government institutions engaged in the elimination of dengue and garbage, the problem could have been averted. The officials have neglected their duty very badly. The aforementioned incident of construction of an illegal road could also have been prevented if we were in power.
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