Oct 25, Colombo: A World Bank funded project is in the works to enhance the environment surrounding the historic Town Hall Square in the Sri Lankan capital and open up the now fenced space to the public.
The significant land mark in the heart of capital Colombo adjacent to the Vihara Maha Devi Park has remained fenced and gated for many years.
Due to the lack of lighting the colonial time park is an unsafe environment at night, particularly for women, denying the residents of the opportunity to experience the open space, the World Bank says.
The Metro Colombo Urban Development Project (MCUDP) with the concept of Open Spaces-Open Minds will upgrade a total of 50.8 hectares surrounding the Town Hall and open up the spaces within the Square with improved facilities and access to all public spaces while retaining the existing architectural and environmental character of the landmark area.
The uplift is expected to benefit the general public including both the visitors to the city and the residential population.
The MCUDP aims to provide pedestrians with safe, clean, and convenient walkways along primary, secondary, and tertiary road networks improving access to commercial and recreational spaces such as Town Hall Square.
Under the Project road network around the Town Hall Square, namely the area bounded by Dharmapala Mawatha, Marcus Fernando Mawatha and C.W.W. Kannangara Mawatha will be upgraded.
Pedestrian sidewalks will be upgraded with improved street lighting and soft landscaping to improve the functionality and the overall visual impact of the area.
Town Hall premises will be upgraded to improve pedestrian access and linkages between the surrounding road network while the center isles and roundabouts will be upgraded and landscaped.
Vihara Maha Devi Park located opposite the Town Hall Square will be upgraded to enhance functionality and recreational use whilst creating pedestrian footpaths through the park that improve connectivity.
The US$ 320 million Project will also aim to rehabilitate the road network to ease congestion and improve both pedestrian and vehicular traffic flow through the area.
The five-year MCUDP implemented by the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development has also upgraded most of the underground utilities and enhanced the drainage system of the area to reduce the future impact of floods.
The World Bank has committed US$ 213 million to the project while the government is responsible for the remaining US$ 107 million of the estimated cost.