Muzammil’s moves to deliver on manifesto

Thursday, 8 December 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Q: What is happening to the numerous promises that were included in your mayoral election manifesto?

A: With regard to my manifesto and the promises, I have already incorporated certain promises into the budget. When I took over office most of the budget estimates and expenditure had been finalised. But still I managed to incorporate and allocate funds to fulfil several pledges I made during my mayoral campaign.

Improving low income settlements is one such project. This is a programme that I have to plan over many years. But the fact that I have allocated funds to commence such a project in my first budget within limited time means that I will fulfil the promises I made to the citizens in Colombo.

Q: You promised to provide better housing facilities under the ‘Shelter for All by 2020’ programme. How many houses have you constructed so far?

A: We have allocated funds to start constructing 500 to 1,000 houses. The money has been allocated. The most important thing is to reserve the funds and we have done that. Our main pledge was that we will not relocate or dislocate people from their present locations. We will honour that pledge. We will not allow any forceful evacuation of people by anybody!

Q: What has been the most difficult task in carrying out your duties as the Mayor of the CMC?

A: Our main problem is to put the administration in place. There has been a serious lapse in the part of administration. I have taken steps to put the administration in proper place. This is the most important fact that we need to attend to.

There are issues with the management at CMC, which is lethargic. There is no proper cooperation between various departments. There are delays in the procedures. We are planning to do this systematically. We have already taken the initiatives.

We are currently exploring and studying ways in which we can put this institution back in order. We will use latest technology to counter allegations. At the beginning of next year we will introduce several changes and through such changes we believe we will be able to improve the CMC’s efficiency.

Q: What kind of support do you receive from the Government?

A: The Government has not been responding to our calls. May be they are still unable to get over their defeat. It looks like we have to give them more time to accept that the people have not chosen them but elected the UNP instead. Once they realise that truth, let’s hope that they will work with us to make Colombo the city they wanted to make.

Q: Without the Government’s backing, how can you fulfil your promises or carry out your duties?

A: Thanks to the powers that are within the Municipal Council, we will be able to manage our affairs. But that does not mean we don’t need the Government’s support. It is up to the Government to keep the City of Colombo up to the expectations of the people. Like I said before, the people have elected an office and it is the duty of the Government to honour what the people want. The Government must look at it in the interest of the people.

Q: Has the Colombo beautification project come to a halt?

A: The work is going on. Nothing has been stopped. I need to mention one important fact – the Government cannot acquire the assets of the Municipal Council under any of its projects. We are exploring the possibility of legal measures. As the Mayor, it is my responsibility to protect the assets and properties owned by the CMC.

Q: Although Colombo has been under UNP administration for many decades, we haven’t seen much development taking place. How can people believe that you will you make a difference during your tenure?

A: All the major development programmes in Colombo have taken place during the UNP regime. It is the present Government that has neglected Colombo. The Government speaks highly about beautifying the roads, but what they can’t recall is that it was the UNP that built most of the roads in Colombo.

Galle Road, Duplication Road and the Parliamentary highway were all done during the UNP’s time. All the sports complexes were built during the UNP regime. How can you say the UNP has done nothing?

What happened was that ever since the UNP went out of office, the successive Government failed to take any solid measures to develop the City of Colombo. All the roads that have been beautified now were done during the UNP regime. The Kotte Road that eases congestion in Colombo was developed during the UNP’s time.

If anybody says the UNP has not done anything to develop Colombo, it is an unfair allegation.

Q: What happened to your request to meet Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa?

A: Speaking to me over the phone he said he would be glad to meet with the Mayor. And that was it. The ball is in their court. Let them decide what they want to do.

Q: Do you believe that the Defence Secretary intends to meet you? Or is he disregarding your request?

A: I can’t answer that question. Only Gotabaya Rajapaksa will be able to answer that. Like I said before, the ball is in their court.

Q: Why did you want to meet the Defence Secretary?

A: Gotabaya Rajapaksa within his powers has made a notable contribution to the upliftment of the City of Colombo. As the Mayor of Colombo, I was hoping to work along with the Government. There should be collaboration between the two parties. But I must say that I am expecting civil cooperation and not military cooperation. People have elected a council to look after their affairs. The Government should respect that decision of the people and work accordingly.

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