- Clean campaign, a new Colombo as centre of excellence and example for others promised among other positives
By Chamitha Kuruppu
United People’s Freedom Alliance Mayoral candidate Milinda Moragoda yesterday guaranteed a new city and a new life in Colombo in 100 days.
Launching his policy platform entitled ‘Making Colombo a centre of excellence’ Moragoda yesterday initiated a 12 point programme that will pave the way for making Colombo a new city within 100 days.
“My objective of making Colombo an exemplary city is far beyond a petty vote buying political game,” expressed Moragoda. “I am not here to engage in just another mud slinging election campaign. I don’t believe in short cuts. There are no slogans. I am not looking for tactics to win elections. If I am to be elected let it be through my development programme for Colombo. I believe people in Colombo are intelligent. And I am certain that we can convince people through the mechanism we have built to make Colombo a centre of excellence,” he asserted.
Emphasising on his belief that the policy platform should be co-created with the participation of people, Moragoda pointed out that ideas, comments and suggestions from the public will be sought through an on-going dialogue through discussions, surveys and interaction on social media platforms. According to Moragoda the inputs from the public will be incorporated into the revised document that will be issued prior to the election.
Moragoda states in the preamble of the platform that he “will bring in a professional and capable administration, which will help ensure that Colombo is a well-run and functioning city, and a place where citizens of all communities and social backgrounds feel safe and protected, where people can live and work with dignity and in peaceful co-existence.”
Professor Rohan Samarajeewa, head of Policy Planning Group of the ‘Milinda for Mayor Campaign’ addressing the news gathering pointed out that every measure will be taken to streamline Colombo Municipal Council administration and make it efficient and transparent. In order to ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability a Bill will be passed to recognise and enshrine the citizen’s right to information on all activities of the CMC.
“Right to information is not simply a right. It is a major mechanism whereby we can get the main organisations to work efficiently as well as to curb corruption” Samarajeewa noted.
Meanwhile, Secretary General of the UPFA Minister Susil Premjayanth asserted that measures will be taken to introduce the ‘Right to Information’ mechanism as a national policy if it becomes a success in Colombo. “We can start it as a model. If it works in Colombo, We can introduce at national level,” he said.
According to the policy platform within the next three years 35,000 decent livable housing units will be built within the city limits by the government. However, Moragoda assures that no citizen is relocated outside of metropolitan Colombo. “The CMC under my leadership will play an active role in this effort, ensuring that the interests of those being resettled are safeguarded,” states Moragoda in his policy platform.
The document also points out on the role that the CMC will play in the larger plans, for which funds have already been obtained, to control the recurrent floods that have affected citizens. On the question of traffic congestion, the manifesto promises to ensure that pedestrians, especially the elderly and the disabled, will have well-maintained, even pavements to walk on and crosswalks that are respected by vehicular traffic. It further states that the CMC will organise attractive circular bus services with simplified fares and dedicated bus lanes that are being demarcated.
Targeting youth in the 18-28 age group, the manifesto promises a comprehensive programme to help them establish livelihoods that will include financial and technical assistance to set up small businesses and develop the skills needed to find gainful employment. Job fairs, starting with one in the first 100 days, will be organised in cooperation with the private sector.
In his Manifesto, Moragoda further states that he will commit to work with the government to ensure that the necessary investments are made in the urban infrastructure of Greater Colombo, such as the ring roads and solid waste disposal facilities, to enable Colombo become a vibrant centre of excellence.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development Dallas Alahapperuma explained the forthcoming election as a significant one not only to Colombo but to the entire country. “Two years ago Colombo was labelled as one of the most dangerous and unsafe cities in the world. For almost 30 years people in Colombo lived in fear and panic. But now that the war is over we have an opportunity to make Colombo the best city in the world. It is the responsibility of the people in Colombo to take a wise decision irrespective of party politics. It is up to the people to decide whether they want to see Colombo as a city of excellence or not” he added.
FT Insight day Programme. A Clean and efficient administration. All necessary steps will be taken to streamline the CMC administration and make it efficient and transparent. Right to information As a key mechanism to ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability, a bill will be passed to recognise and enshrine the citizen’s right to information on all activities of the CMC. Protecting and fostering religious and cultural diversity We will initiate a programme to improve all places of worship. Building approvals within a month Measures will be put in place to streamline procedures so that approvals will be given in a month, provided that all stipulations are met. A safe city A comprehensive programme will be launched in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence and the Police Department to make Colombo a safe city for everyone. A modern and beautiful city The government has expended enormous efforts to beautify the city of Colombo. This process will be expanded to every nook and corner of the city. Better living conditions for tenement dwellers Within three years 35,000 housing units will be built. A mechanism for swift action in case of breakdowns A mechanism to deliver quick and effective solutions to problems of waste disposal and flaws in the drainage system will be put in place. The council will also work with relevant state agencies to ensure that breakdowns in services such as electricity and water supply will be attended to as matters of urgency. Improved sports facilities Sports grounds and recreational facilities within the municipal limits will be upgraded through a systematic and comprehensive programme. ‘Purasaviya’ – to counter youth unemployment A scheme will be launched whereby unemployed youth in the city will have the opportunity to work a minimum number of days in projects implemented by the council. Improving and streamlining healthcare facilities Steps will be taken to upgrade all healthcare facilities and maternity homes operated by the council, by providing new equipment. A comprehensive system will be formulated and implemented to combat the menace of dengue and other such diseases. Foreign assistance I will seek investments as well as assistance from donor agencies in order to implement programmes that would enhance the quality of life of the people of Colombo.